Flares don’t just affect you physically — there’s a tremendous emotional/psychological affect as well. Just because your body isn’t moving doesn’t mean your mind isn’t running around in circles. Sometimes, all we can do is just survive in the present moment. So here are some things to keep in mind next time you’re in the throes of a flare:
1. You will get through this (really). You have gotten through it before.
2. You are not being lazy. Taking care of yourself is doing something.
3. The dirt/dust/laundry/house projects will still be there when you’re feeling better. Trust me.
4. You will get to the dirt/dust/laundry/house projects. Eventually. You always do.
5. Life is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. Not everything needs to be done now.
6. Be kind to yourself. If your kids were sick, would you hound them with guilt and admonish them for resting? More likely you’d offer to make them soup or sit with them. You deserve the same.
7. Move. No matter how much it hurts, you still need to move. This could be as simple as clenching and unclenching your fist or bending and extending your leg. The more you sit or lay, the more stiffness will set in. Stiffness = pain.
8. You are not “so and so” on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter. Do not compare yourself to other people. You have no idea what their reality is. How can you possibly compare yourself to “that”when you don’t even really know what “that” is? (Don’t believe me? How many selfies do you take before posting one?)
9. Give yourself permission to be down. Your body really does know itself.
10. Drink water. No matter how awful you feel. Hydrate. If you can’t stomach much at a time, take small sips. Dehydration will only make everything worse — your body needs water. And God forbid a migraine comes, too.
11. You are so much stronger than you think. Really.
12. Celebrate every victory. If that is as simple as being happy you showered, so be it. Showering is still an achievement.
13. Try to be present in this moment. Continuously thinking and worrying about the future isn’t helpful. Just get through here and now.
14. Look for beauty. No matter how awful it is, there is still beauty. A dog’s kiss, your cat purring, a beautiful sunset, time spent with those you love. No matter how bleak you feel, remember there is still beauty.
15. Eat well. Trust me, I know how Herculean this may seem. I’m not saying cook. Try reaching for a banana, apple chips or a yogurt. While processed food is usually easier, it doesn’t always help your body.
16. Let go of the guilt. This resonates with #6. Guilt is so counterproductive. It won’t help. It will only create more stress and anxiety. You didn’t choose this.
17. Go outside. I glare at my husband when he pushes this on me, but it does help. If you can only handle five minutes, so be it. The clean air and sunlight helps.
18. Try to smile or laugh. Find dancing parrots or playful kitten videos.
19. Remember to be grateful. Yup. I know it’s almost impossible to feel grateful when cutting off your arm with a spoon might be less painful. But there is always something to be grateful for; like having ice cream in the house.
20. Lose yourself in love. Hug your dog, hug your spouse/significant other, listen to your kids. Remind yourself why you fight.
21. It’s OK to be down, angry or hopeless. Cry. Swear. Yell. Throw things. (I prefer pillows and empty water bottles.) Whatever gets you through this moment. Do it.
22. Do something or have someone else do something you love. My best example of this is my husband painting my toes to cheer me up. That’s true love.
From one person having a really bad week to another, we got this. Well, sort of. Even when it feels like we don’t.