“No one can listen to your body for you….
To grow and heal, you have to take responsibility for listening to yourself”Jon Kabat Zinn
When we have been dealing with an autoimmune or any other such chronic condition, it can often feel as if our body is betraying us. We may feel that our body has gone out of control and has become a stranger to us. We may also feel completely disempowered and helpless to do anything about our current situation.
We may reach a stage where we start saying to ourselves-
“I will never get better, what’s the point in even trying?”
This is where many people with severe chronic diseases remain stuck with or with a diagnosis. They keep running from pillar hoping to get a proper, accurate diagnosis and a long term solution. Unfortunately, many of the times both of these are hard to come by. Days turn into months and months turn into years and they resign themselves to living a life with chronic pain, fatigue, and a never ending struggle of trying to live with their condition.
My own experience of dealing with my daughter’s severe health crisis several years ago and the many years of struggle and my professional experience of dealing with my clients complex health issues, has taught me TWO important things
This is because irrespective of your diagnosis (or a lack of it), you have what it takes to start supporting your body by providing support in terms of nutrition, lifestyle and mindset. And no matter how impossible it may seem, we can always find a way to heal some part of ourselves- whether it is our mind, body or soul.
The only home you will ever have
I find that what is often missing is a lack of awareness of the importance of supporting our body’s healing process. This is usually because as children we are rarely taught WHY and HOW to take care of ourselves by tuning into what our bodies need from us.
When we are very young children we are naturally tuned into ourselves and our needs, but as we grow older we become increasingly disconnected from our own bodies. As a result, we stop paying attention to the messages that our bodies are sending us every single day. Infact, too many of us spend more time taking care of our possessions like cars, bags and clothes, phones than we do our own bodies- the only home that we will ever truly have.
Is it then any wonder that we end up with a multitude of health problems after decades of neglect?
Of course, it is possible to face health issues and fall sick even while doing everything right due to circumstances beyond our control. Life offers no such guarantee!
But would you not like to at least try supporting your body and preventing disease?
Would you not like to recover faster even if you do fall ill?
The stress of living with “an invisible illness”
The other thing is that while stress has been found to be a huge trigger for those with autoimmune conditions, living with any kind of such chronic health issue is also inherently stressful. Unlike many other diseases, autoimmune conditions can often be invisible in nature due to the very nature of this disease.
Tests are often inconclusive, an accurate diagnosis may not be possible for many years, and symptoms are ever changing and unpredictable. This means it can be really hard for a person dealing with autoimmune conditions to make others understand what they are going through. Chronic fatigue, chronic pain, and dealing with the loss of control and what their life used to be earlier can become a large part of their life.
In other words, large parts of this disease can be “invisible” and make this disease really difficult to live with.
In a situation like this, it can be very easy to come to the conclusion that we are at war with our bodies. That the only way out is to find the most accurate diagnosis, better and better drugs to manage the symptoms which can finally provide us with the solution that we seek. Sadly, as we realise only too well, this is at best a stop-gap measure.
But there is a way to change this and it starts with changing the way you think about your body.
Thinking of your body in terms of “Today’s body”
The good news is that there are many different ways of moving towards better health outcomes that do not need us to be at “war” with ourselves.
You see, having an autoimmune condition doesn’t mean your body has given up on you….
Your body is trying its best to adapt to the environment you are asking it to live in. If you would like to know more about HOW your body is trying to protect you in a chronic disease condition, you can read my earlier post on this topic HERE.
I work with women with autoimmune conditions in my coaching practice and one intervention that has had a major impact on my clients is teaching them the concept of “today’s body”. This means that you find a way to stop identifying with your body as “I, me or mine” even if for a moment. This helps you to create some space and can be quite empowering.
At the same time, by making it more impersonal and thinking in terms of “today’s body” you may find it easier to start taking care of “today’s body” with more tenderness and forgiveness.
You know that you can practice taking care of your body today just the way it is right now. Tomorrow you may feel differently, but today is what counts right now and all that matters.
4 simple ways of dealing with stress
In my coaching programme, I teach my clients ways to manage their stress which goes way beyond traditional stress management methods like meditation and deep breathing. You don’t need to know how to meditate or take out a lot of time to take these simple steps that I have shared with you below.
- Do a self journaling exercise like writing a thank you note to your body
- Practice treating your body well for ONE day
- Make a short list of ways that you can support your body for the next one week
- You can make an “appreciation list” for your body and write down
There is NO one right way of doing this and you can never get it wrong! And you certainly don’t need to wait for a diagnosis to start creating long term health and feel more energetic, confident and calm. You can just start by embracing your body for what it does for you rather than just how it looks and appreciate the amazing gift that it is.
JOIN US FOR A 5 DAY GRATITUDE CHALLENGE!
Starts on 5th Dec, Friday 2021
An online challenge that helps you to approach your chronic health conditions through a different lens and helps create resilience and hope. Building your capacity for gratitude isn’t difficult. It just takes practice