Incorporating practices of mindfulness into my life has been game changing. Such practices have helped me identify places in my life that added stress and anxiety--which are exhausting in and of themselves--allowing me to make changes that have improved my daily live. While I have multiple mindfulness practices that I have incorporated into my life since first starting this journey 6 years ago the main one I started with was asking myself "how am I feeling today" as soon as I woke up. This allowed me to assess what changes I needed to make to my day so that I got through it more smoothly. Sometimes this meant taking sick time. Sometimes this meant working from home. Other times it meant eating really bland--I mean PLAIN food with no flavor, or taking a medication to manage my symptoms or even carefully choosing the fabrics I was wearing to reduce the impact of allodynia.
This practice is probably my most simple and impactful one I've incorporated. Being aware of what your facing, although it can change over the course of the day, can help reduce the impact of symptoms on your life or simply reduce your stress so that you can get to a better place sooner--at least that is the hopeful goal.
Out of my journey with mindfulness I discovered how deeply stressful clutter and excess was in my life. While minimalism may not be for everyone I discovered that by implementing principles of minimalism, i.e. Having only what you need and loving and using what you have, that I was able to reduce the number of items I had to take care of. This reduced stress by decreasing the amount of time I spend caring for, organizing and managing all of my belongings. This was by no means easy and I began this journey by diving into my wardrobe. I felt that this was a good place to start because minimizing my wardrobe didn't effect any of my family members and allowed me to work out the kinks of my own preferences about minimalism.
After tackling my wardrobe and creating 2 curated capsules totaling about 65 items I went on to minimize other areas of my home, from the kitchen, to the bathroom, bedroom, living room...etc. While this took getting my family members on board to some extent, most of what I minimized were items we simply didn't use or want. This process really taught me how stressful I find clutter and how reducing our belongings is a great strategy that reduces the amount of time and energy it takes to keep a clutter free home.
I'll be honest though--there is still clutter--just less of it. :)
3. Implementing a Sleep Routine
You've probably heard of a sleep routine before. This has been immensely helpful and although I still have issues getting deeply restful and restorative sleep I have found that having a sleep routine increases my success rate in getting restorative sleep.
For my sleep routine this means no screens a half our before bed and preferably an hour if possible. Reading or meditating in the evening just before bed and taking supplements that support sleep--sometimes these are herbal like CBD or Chamomile tea, other times these are mineral like manganese.
4. Intuitive Eating
This is one of the more recent strategies I've added to my repertoire. If you're like me and one of the manifestations of your condition is IBS you may find it intuitive eating helpful. My understanding of intuitive eating is that it is about listening to your body, reducing shame surrounding eating certain foods and most importantly recognizing the signals our body uses to indicate it is in need of nourishment.
I have found that eating intuitively and listening to my body has reduced the severity of my IBS symptoms. While it has not eliminated it completely the number of days where I am severely impacted has been reduced. I've also discovered that I'm better able to identify whether I'm thirsty versus hungry and when I am satiated or not. I'm also beginning to find this practice beneficial for reducing the voice in my head that says "you should eat this not that". It is help me manage my shame and self-consciousness around food and its relation to body image and self-esteem. All in all this is a type of mindfulness practice and I am thankful for what it has taught me thus far.
I hope these strategies help you too, or at least give you more information as you find what works for you on your journey. As always thanks for reading, take care and remember...its about the journey...
Hi, I'm Liz. I like to write about life and the wisdom I cull from it. I use words and images to inspire empathy and connection with each other and the world.