I consider myself lucky in that I'm still able to work, but this means that when it gets “busy” at work, it affects me more than it affects my coworkers. This means that I’ve had to unapologetically build breaks into my day/life that "healthy" people don’t necessarily need. This means lots of breaks away from my desk (especially on “high-symptom” days), naps during my lunch break, and lying down and resting (sometimes even straight up napping) immediately after work. Now, this also means not usually being able to do anything else in a work day because I’ve used up all my energy at work, and need to recharge to go back to work again tomorrow. This also means that I spend a lot of weekend time catching up on rest I lost paying it forward during the week, and using what little energy I do have on the chores that can't be put off any longer. This all adds up to not much of a social life, but a hell of a knowledge of what’s good on Netflix (please send recommendations!). Sounds super fun, right?
In related news (wait for it...), I turned 33 this week (which means I'm still not dead, y'all!!!), and I always like to get away and have an adventure on or around my birthday. I love dedicating a day to celebrating LIVING instead of the daily mode of simply surviving. At this point in my life, I've been dealing with my Fibro-symptoms for 19 years, so I've had some time to learn how to deal with my body's ever-changing needs, which comes in REAL handy when you want to have an adventure day but also have Fibro- which is a real toss-up situation no matter how you dice it, but so far, I've got a pretty track record! (Keep your fingers crossed!)
This year has been busy in pretty much every aspect of my life, so having a high-action adventure this year was out of the cards (ain't nobody got spoons for that!), but spending a few days exploring a new area was definitely in the cards- so I decided to do that.
The nice thing about living in California's Bay Area is there are a lot of cool touristy type towns within an hour or two of each other, so I went on Groupon, grabbed a deal on a cute place with nice beds and a jacuzzi, and then proceeded to over-pack for my three day two night trip to the Bay city of Tiburon, as one does.
The nice thing about dealing with a chronic illness, is after a while, you learn to take the breaks you need unapologetically. Does it take a while? Hell yes it does. Does the guilt ever truly go away? No. But there is something to all this talk about "you can't pour from an empty cup." You just can't so it. So even though it's busy at work and was ramping up to get busier, I knew I was already feeling burnt out, and I knew missing my annual tradition would make me feel even more depleted than I already was, and at that rate I'd never get through the weeks ahead, so I unapologetically decided to take the time to have my birthday adventure. I took two days off work and went on long walks along the bay, stopping often to watch pelicans and other sea birds soar over the bay, and the fog roll-in over the hills. Inevitably of course, these long walks lead to immediate naps, and some soak time in the jacuzzi, but it was exactly the kind of excursion I wanted. I got to see 'the other side of the bay,' which I'd never seen before, and I got to see it in a way that rejuvenated rather than taxed me- which is such a fine line for Spoonies, like me.
I'm so lucky to work at a place that understands my needs and allows me a bit of flexibility in my schedule so I can work around my symptoms if I need to, and it's allowed me to really lean-in to listening to my body, and I'm so thankful for that because it's allowed me to build R&R into my lifestyle. So I'd like to ask you, do you build R&R into your schedule? Do you take breaks when you need to? Sometimes we have to push ourselves past our limit, but do you try your best to set yourself up for success? It's so important for Spoonies to really keep up with our self-care and to learn to listen to our bodies so we don't exacerbate our symptoms and cause a flare. Some of the most common R&R tips, and some of my faves, are:
- stay hydrated
- take vitamins/eat healthy food/have a balanced diet
- take a bubble bath/epsom salt bath after a rough day, or do as a regular practice
- do light stretches or yoga a few times a week, daily, or as needed/as capable
- take a nature walk/nice walk (preferably no chaotic sirens or dozens of people pushing past you) or sit outside in relative silence (or with relaxing music/podcast/audible book) when you can
- get a massage or acupuncture or assisted stretch - anything that helps ease your symptoms
- use aroma therapy
- meditate or do breathing exercises regularly
There are so many things we can do to make sure we're taking care of ourselves- you certainly don't have to go so dramatic as I did on recent R&R/birthday trip- but I wanted to share my experience, and urge you to build breaks & R&R rituals into your life- make sure you're setting yourself up for success by taking care of yourself, and please share your favorite R&R rituals/habits/tips/tricks with us below!
-FSC Founder and Fabulous Fibro-Fighter-