I know, I’m always talking about food in one way or another, but managing your health truly is not just about food!
When we deal with autoimmune diseases, there are a multitude of other issues to look at besides food. Issues like stress, sleep, and exercise to name a few.
It’s really important to address all the things that can be causing your body problems. I know when I don’t eat properly, I can tell the next morning that I haven’t because my hands flare up overnight. They will actually wake me up during the night. So just eating properly is a real big issue for me.
Stress is at the top of the list of things to keep under control. Stress on a healthy individual will cause issues, but when you deal with autoimmune disease(s), there are a few things we need to know to help deal with any stressors. Meditation is one way to deal with stressful situations. Just a few minutes a day can be very helpful. Other methods to help deal with your stress are to try relaxation techniques like self-hypnosis where you focus on a word like “love”, “peace”, or “calm” and repeat that word to yourself. If your mind starts to wander, simply return to the word or phrase you have chosen and focus on it again. If you get frustrated, tense or irritated, just repeat your word or phrase.
Unfortunately, we live in a fast paced world where everything becomes important to us. Sleep is one of the most important things you need to focus on as it will turn your stress into a spinning wheel. If you don’t get enough of it, you will soon find yourself “spinning” out of control in all areas of your life. Lack of sleep is one of the biggest stressors you will ever encounter. It causes all kinds of problems with your health, including weight issues, heart disease, high blood pressure and stroke. How to avoid lack of sleep? Go to bed at the same time each night. If you find getting to sleep is an issue, try using your relaxation exercise(s) while laying in bed, deep breathing, reading a light book until your eyes tired, take a warm bath before retiring to bed, or drink something warm before going to bed. I know this might sound corny, but counting sheep can also be helpful. Avoid alcohol and/or caffeine for several hours before going to bed. Try not to do anything mentally taxing like work related things before going to bed as it will also stop you from getting your much needed sleep. Turn off the television at least an hour before going to bed as the light from the TV screen can also interrupt your circadian rhythm. Remove any additional electronic equipment from your bedroom as it can also interrupt your sleep pattern.
OK, now I’m going to talk about exercise! Not one of my favorite subjects, but one that is ultimately necessary to help manage stress in your life. When you are stressed, your adrenaline and cortisol levels increase in your body and that can cause all kinds of issues. Just going for a walk in fresh air can help to reduce those chemical responses in your body. Any type of exercise can be used to help reduce stress. Running (if you are able) yoga, Pilates, walking either outside or on a treadmill, using an elliptical machine or swimming (great full body exercise) which is great for those of us who don’t play well with exercise equipment and is less “stressful” on the body. So there are a lot of things you can do to help manage your adrenaline and cortisol levels and maybe just get your body into better shape.
If you have problems dealing with your stress, perhaps keeping a stress journal/diary may help you pinpoint what actually is stressing you. Writing down what you were doing, where you were, who you were with, when it happened, and how you felt could lead you to avoid certain stresses in your life in future and perhaps help you cope better with other stressful situations.. Just a thought!
If you are not well and need a break – take the time to heal and get better before committing to anything. Your health is important to you and your family and friends. So make sure to take the time you need to rejuvenate yourself.
Have a wonderful day and week ahead.