Chronically Living and how to make the most of it

Transitions in Health & Life

April 26, 2021 Kelsey Season 1 Episode 44
Chronically Living and how to make the most of it
Transitions in Health & Life
Show Notes Transcript

We're constantly going through changes and transitions in our lives, and for those with chronic illness, in our health. There are some important skills for us to develop that can make these easier for us.
In this episode we talk about:

  • resiliency
  • health transitions
  • life transitions
  • self-care

Follow me on Instagram @janeversuspain, on FaceBook @JaneVersusPain and on Twitter @janevspain.

Kelsey Harris:

Welcome to the chronically living and how to make the most of it podcast. I'm Kelsey Harris, a chronic pain warrior here to inspire hope and strength to the spooni community, get ready to lif each other up and find ways t live the best life possible Hey, everyone, I'm so glad you called join me today. I don't know about you guys, but I'm really appreciating this sunny summer weather that seems to have come up my way here in British Columbia, Canada. You know, I'm on the subject of changing weather, which definitely for the better in my opinion. Today we're going to talk about transitions. So both in our health and in our lives in general, because the truth is, we're always changing and the world around us is always changing. So transitions are common. They aren't always easy, though. And how we deal with them often comes down to our own personal resilience. Before we even get into like how to develop some resilience deal with these transitions, I want to just first start off by pointing out that it's totally okay and normal to have feelings about these transitions. It's okay to be sad, it's okay to be anxious or scared. It's also okay to be excited depending on what exactly is changing for you and your life. Our minds are meant to have all these emotions. And these emotions come in waves. It would be like really weird actually, if we didn't have them, I think so. I'm going to read you a bit of an excerpt of something by Russ Harris, who's a therapist that I think is really important, when we're talking about emotions, just before we get into like the regular content of this episode. So this is what he says, Our primitive ancestors lived in a world of constant danger. Big critters, big teeth lurked around every corner. So back, then your mind had to constantly be on the lookout for danger, anticipating anything that could hurt or harm you in any way. Watch out, there could be a bear in that cave. There could be a wolf in those bushes, is that person in the distance a friend or an enemy? If you were cavemen and your mind didn't do the struggle, you shouldn't be dead. And that's what we've inherited from our ancestors. Our modern mind is basically a don't get harmed machine, it's constantly trying to warn you of anything that could possibly hurt or harm you in any way. This is normal. everyone's mind does this. It's just our mind trying to do its number one job, protect us and keep us alive. Alright, hopefully I haven't lost you because it's not technically emotions we're talking about. The reason I brought that up again, was just because it's okay to have these emotions about the things that we're going to talk about. So we are going to talk about transitions. And like I said, our ability to handle them, especially the major transitions in our lives, often comes down to resilience. So the definition of resilience is our ability to recover quickly from difficulties. Sometimes it's referred to as mental toughness or mental strength. And there have been lots of studies on the impact of resilience on chronic illness. So according to research by Manning et al., from 2016, resilience has an impact on how people recover from adversity, are able to personally grow in their lives, and enter later in life functioning. So for those with chronic illness, people with higher levels of resilience, tend to have fewer limitations in their activities of daily living. And when we mean by that is like being able to get up, get dressed, shower, make breakfast, do your chores, go to work, all that kind of stuff, and also their overall improved physical functioning. Resilience also plays a role in how disabled the person becomes after they get a chronic illness. So I think it's really important to keep in mind, I, there are a number of ways you can build up some resilience, if you find that you're lacking it. So let's discuss a couple of those. So first of all, we have relaxation. So I personally like relaxation techniques, such as progressive muscle relaxation. And like just so you guys know, I'm going to be starting a new YouTube channel coming up specifically for meditations and relaxation techniques. So I'll have more information on that for you all pretty soon, I hope. But in the meantime, go online if you don't already know how to do some of these relaxation techniques, such as progressive muscle relaxation, there's lots of information out there. The another way we can build resilience is just to start to notice your thoughts as you're having them, and then how they're impacting your daily functioning. And depending on what psychological theory you subscribe to, there are lots of ways to work with thoughts. I can definitely talk more more about that in a future episode if you guys are interested. But to start, I mean teaming up with a therapist or going through the Self Help section in a library of bookstores is often a good place to start off. Taking opportunities to learn from the past is another way to build resilience. So this is just so you don't make the same mistakes in the future. No, I don't, I don't like the word mistakes, I don't really believe in mistakes, per se. I think everything in our lives is a learning opportunity. And if we see them that way, it's going to foster some resilience as well. Setting personal and health goals for yourself as a great way to build resilience. So this would be like a step by step fashion thing, we've talked about smart goals before. So that they're, you know, ones that are a little difficult, but you can also accomplish, I recommend doing goals based on your personal values. Another way is to increase your self confidence by actually accomplishing these goals. which kind of makes sense. And then there is also developing a strong empathy muscle if you don't have one already, empathy increases human connection, and fast increases resilience. And finally, psychological flexibility or being just flexible, flexible in our thinking and doing in general. Alright, so let's get into some of these transitions. First, we have health ones, I think, for spoonies, the biggest health transition is a new diagnosis. That part is super scary. And as we've talked about earlier, it's totally okay to be scared during that. This is also when we need to flex our resiliency muscles. That way we can learn to more easily adapt to our new circumstances. And whether that that serves as his pain disability or other discrete decrease functioning, we have to be able to keep going with our lives. And I'm not saying this is just like super easy. It's it's actually hard. In fact, it's probably harder than most people will know. Like, it takes a lot of dedication and hard work on our part. I I've had clients through my counseling practice, as I'm still a counselor and training here, just tell me that they want to feel better, right now. But that's like not how change works. And during health transitions change can be fast in how sick you are, but slow and how you're feeling about and dealing with that change. So I know I've shared my story before, but like, yeah, like it. It was a slow process for me once I decided that I needed to make changes. But once I started to get on a roll, like I could see the difference in myself, which was really cool. And it was also considered difference in my ability to cope with chronic pain, and just live my life and do my values based living. So practicing resiliency is helpful. But it often takes more effort than just doing those things that we talked about before. So like setting up a healthcare team, and doing all the things that they tell you to do is an example of the extra work we need to do. or modifying your diet, lifestyle, or really, whatever else comes up for you with your specific illness. Health transitions can also include improvements in your improvements or health, which I think is just like, important to recognize as well. So there could this could be periods where your illness isn't as intense, or if you go into full remission from an illness. And there can be definitely intense emotions that accompany these situations as well. And it also can mean sometimes modifying your lifestyle again, or even just keeping up with some modifications you've already made. Even if people are telling you to return how you were before you were sick. The truth is, it is very unlikely you will return to being that person. And that brings us to life transitions. So obviously health transitions are some of life transitions. They're not separate, they're included. But life transitions can also include so much more, going to school, or going back to school, starting a career, changing careers, moving in with a partner, getting married, having children returned retiring from work. These are all examples of life transitions. And as I'm sure you're already very aware of these continuously happens throughout our lives and during every stage of our lives. And some of these are easier than others and it varies so much from person to person. And then obviously having a chronic illness on top of some of these other transitions can make it very different and unique for you then for some of your friends or family members. The same resiliency that apply to health transitions totally applies to all of life's transitions. I think the personal This piece is particularly important. Like, do you want to be the same person than you were when you were 20? Could you even be that person still an ex tell me that she never wanted to change because she was very happy with who she was a while I don't disagree and being happy with who you are, how can you never want to grow or change, like, it just baffles me. I'm always eager to change, grow, learn, and just being open to the possibility of change, I think can be quite protective, especially as we've seen through the pandemic, because, you know, what I've seen is that businesses that have survived are mostly ones that have pivoted in how they do things or what exactly they're doing. And people who have coped well, are typically ones who are less resistant to adapting to what is happening in the world. I want to take a moment to also briefly touch on self care here. So self care includes taking care of your physical needs, which ranged from getting enough sleep, Episode 33, eating healthy exercise, which was episode nine, to doing little things that can help your chronic pain like taking baths. It also includes taking care of your emotional needs. So this can be going to therapy or writing a gratitude journal, or practicing mindfulness, which was Episode 31. It also means taking care of your intellectual needs. So this could be reading books, watching documentaries, or doing puzzles are playing word games, something to strengthen your mind. Your spiritual needs are also important. So this could be going to church or swimming, online church services, if you're religious, or being in nature, meditating, if you're not religious, are great ways to still be spiritual. And then finally, we've got social self care, which includes making connections with others and finding support when needed great online communities for that, there's also opportunities to just utilize your family and friends, which I also did an episode on. So that being said, for the first four weeks on my blog, janeversuspain.com we are doing a self care challenge for Premium subscribers. This challenge has us focusing on doing at least one self care activity each day, and then trying to get all five pillars of self care in for ourselves during the week. So it's just $5 a month to subscribe to my premium content on my blog. If you're interested in joining us, the idea is to get feedback and support from other subscribers and just overall improve your self care game. So if that sounds really cool to you, just head over to Jane vs pain.com and subscribe to the premium content. Okay, so this week's quote is from the amazing Brene Brown who I love. And I'm totally obsessed with her podcast, by the way, which is called Unlocking Us. So good. It's exclusive to Spotify. But anyway, so Brene says, owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing we'll ever do. If your story includes chronic illness or other health issues right now, just do what Bernie says. And own that, develop some resilience and figure out the way to live the best life you can. Even if the process is hard, you'll be brave for doing it, and you won't regret doing it. Before we wrap up today, I just want to say thank you all so much for listening every week. If you're new to listening, thank you for tuning in today. There are 43 other episodes of this podcast so far that you can check out. And if you guys love this podcast, I'd really appreciate some reviews and tags on your Instagram stories. Or even if there's topics you want to hear, let me know reach out. That way it can bring you the content that you guys are looking for. I also have some pretty cool giveaways coming soon. For those of you who do reviews for me, so just stay tuned. And you know what, for now guys, just keep making the most of it. Thank you so much for joining me today on the chronically living podcast. If you love this week's podcast, please subscribe, rate and leave a review. Until next week, stay strong