There is a tendency to push through to complete errands regardless when symptoms start to become out of control. To stubbornly ignore the start of an oncoming flare and do more than our body can handle. But, doing so, however, only worsens these ‘starting‘ symptoms and thus exacerbates the approaching flare.
We should begin starting, to see these increased symptoms as warning signs. And to start to listen to what our body is telling us. To attend and rest or participate in self-care activities when we are in need to do so.
But how do we learn the subtle signals our bodies are telling us? Experience. As C.S. Lewis once wrote, “Experience: that most brutal of teachers. But you learn, my God do you learn.” And there is no more a brutal teacher than pain and illness.
As much as experiencing a flare is horrendous, each one can teach us about living with chronic illness. The experience of each flare enables us to analyse the symptoms and sensations that precede an attack allows us to learn when we need to stop and rest. And as such, when resting when needed, we can learn to lessen the impact of future exacerbations.
It is not only the analysis of the signs and symptoms preceding an upcoming flare that can be useful. It can also be helpful analysing those behaviours and actions that help minimise the destructive impact they cause. For instance, having a relaxing, warm bath may help alleviate pain. Or watching a favourite film or TV show can help distract from the extremely bothersome symptoms that plague everyday life.
And when we know that which helps us cope, both physically and emotional we can plan for the next flare. Planning enables us to prepare suitable contingency plans for when in need of rest and recuperation for our physical and emotional well-being. And it also allows the opportunity for planning a flare kit. A flare kit is one in which contains the essentials that help calm and please. Comforting items that help you to cope during a time of suffering.
I have learned the importance of planning rest. And planning for the next eventual flare. Because the only certainty when living with a chronic illness is that there will be another.
And we must also learn to let go of the guilt when in need of resting. Chores and errands can always wait, but looking after our health and well-being should always be our priority. -Rhiann
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