endo warrior wednesday: my endometriosis rituals
Did you know that 1 in 10 women suffer from endometriosis - a chronic, inflammatory condition that causes severe pain? I am one of those women and March is Endometriosis Awareness Month.
Every Wednesday in March, I’ll be sharing my endometriosis story and the many things I’ve learned along the way to manage my symptoms. Unfortunately, there is no cure for endometriosis but I have found things that help me get through my difficult days. Today, I’ll be addressing all the ways I take care of my mind, body, and spirit during a flare. Even if you don’t suffer from endometriosis, I hope some of these self-care rituals can help you with your own personal struggles.
Distraction: Whether I need to mentally escape or just turn off the parade of negative thoughts, I have a few go-to distractions for when I’m feeling down or overwhelmed. While social media seems like a no-brainer, I think it can often do more harm than good when you’re feeling sad. So, I turn to my favorite books or TV shows to take a break from everything else going on around me.
Alone time: While totally isolating you during an endo episode isn’t a good idea, don’t ever be afraid to give yourself a little space. If you’re tired or in pain, you deserve a little time to recharge. Go for a walk, head to a coffee shop with a podcast, or sneak away into a quiet space at home for 20 minutes to simply be.
Comforting favorites: a pair of leggins, my owl coffee mug, a cozy pair of socks - these are a few of my favorite things. Having my creature comforts close at hand is key. These things make me feel safe and cared for. When I’m struggling with pain and fatigue, I pull out all the things I love most and remember that it’s all going to be okay.
Planning, Routines, and Brain Dumps. Oh, my!: I always like to have game plan but when I’m having a tough week keeping a thoughtful plan, maintaining my routines, and practicing brain dumps help to alleviate my anxiety. When I’m prepared, I’m ready to take on the world or at least get through the day. Use technology to your advantage or go old school with a Filofax*, like me. Either way, track your schedule, your to-dos, and write down all those fleeting thoughts. You’ll get back to them later. Right now, you have more important things to focus on - like taking care of yourself.
Organization and Cleaning: A cluttered, messy space will lend itself to a cluttered, messy mind. When my living space gets out of control, I feel out of control. Keeping on top of my laundry, dishes, and clutter prevents me from being totally overwhelmed. I’m not ashamed to admit that I even went so far as to hire some help. Twice a month, a cleaning service comes to my home to give it a deep clean. I consider this a health care cost because knowing that help is on the way gives me a sense of peace. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or hire help. You don’t have to carry the world on your shoulders.
Screen-Free Time: By now, you probably know about the effects of blue lights on our sleep cycles but there are other benefits of taking a break from our screens. Take 30 minutes to detox from your phone, tablet, computer, and TV. Use that time to journal, meditate, read a book, hang with your dog, or simply sit and exist. Social media, Netflix, and YouTube will be there when you’re ready to come back. For now, focus on finding inner peace.
Loving Movement: No matter where you are in your fitness journey, a little gentle exercise will do your body good. My current routine includes spin, yoga, and barre classes. I can’t wait for the temperatures to start rising so I can take it outside. Finding a type of exercise that you enjoy is key. Make it a priority. Take joy in it. And love yourself by moving for 30 minutes at least 3 times a week. You deserve it.
Meal Prepping: Following a (mostly) anti-inflammatory diet works well for me. I feel my best when I stick to it. The key to sticking to it is to be prepared. I make a point to meal prep as much as possible. When I’m cranky and hungry, I’m more likely to reach for a hand full of carrot sticks or a hard boiled egg, if they’re easily accessible. Otherwise, I’m so going for the Oreos. Keeping meals and snacks on hand helps me to make choices that make me feel good and are good for me. There is no one-size fits all diet. Find what works for you and focus on sticking to it about 80% of the time.
A Well-Kept Vessel: My body is a temple. Shouldn’t I treat it as such? No matter how tired I am, no matter how much pain I’m in, I make a point to take care of myself. I take care of my skin. I floss. I pluck my eyebrows. I might not feel my best but I can still look my best. Letting my outside become a reflection of how I feel inside doesn’t do me any good. So, I keep up with my regular grooming routine.
Luxurious Indulgences: Whether you love a good mani-pedi, hot stone massage, or a Japanese-style foot soak, it’s time to treat yourself. Find something in your budget that allows you take a moment of time for yourself. Something totally blissful. Enjoy every moment of it and release all feelings of guilt surrounding such an indulgence. You’re worth it.
Gratitude: I wrote an entire post on gratitude journaling. If you haven’t read it, I recommend it (although I’m obviously biased!). Taking a few moments to practice being thankful when you feel like everything is going so horribly wrong can lift your spirit. Give it a try. You’ve got nothing to lose.
Meditation: Meditation is something that I really struggle with but feel so much benefit from when I am able to quiet my mind. Meditation does not come naturally to me. My mind loves to wander. Shutting that all off is work for me but I feel so refreshed when I am able to do. If you’ve never tried meditation, it’s worth a try. Whether you find a 5-minute guided mediation on YouTube or check out a local meditation class, it can bring you some serious peace of mind.
Devotion and Intentions: Whatever you believe in, take a some time to align yourself with your higher power. The Universe, God, tiny green men from Mars. Whatever you want to call, you are here for a purpose and bring yourself in line with that purpose will only help you. Through gratitude and meditation and practicing kindness, get right with those vibrations. Be thoughtful. Be purposeful. Set intentions and put it out there. You'll be better for it.
Affirmations: Sitting in your room repeating things like “I am worthy” sounds a little cooky. I get it. I feel dumb doing it sometimes but I do it anyways. I repeat positive affirmations to myself because I have to. Because if I don’t, I will think the worst of myself and feel the worst. When I’m having a bad day or week, I have to verbally remind myself that I’m not a horrible, useless, ugly human. I am not any of those things and neither are you. So, get your mind right and say something nice to yourself.
I know that was a long one friends. If you made it to the end, you are a lovely human. If you didn’t you’re still lovely. I hope there is something useful here for you to take away and practice and own.
If you suffer from endometriosis, I feel you girl. I’m here for you. If you’re suffering from something else in life, I feel you. I’m here for you. I hope you know that you are cherished and loved. I hope you take care of yourself this week and every week.
Tell me how you practice self-care in the comments below.
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