Why your health is the most important thing in your life. Always.

Your health is the most important thing in your life. Always.

Everyone has that friend who claims they never get sick. The ones who smugly pronounce they haven’t had a cold in years, as you plow through your second packet of cough sweets.

But even these human anomalies cannot hold off the plethora of viruses that surround us forever. Eventually they succumb, amidst croaks of surprise and anguish.

The lesson is simple: everyone is susceptible to illness – whether temporary like a cold or the flu, or a permanent life-long or life threatening condition.

Most of the time in life people get sick for a little while then bounce back all sunny and rosy. But there are plenty out there for whom this does not happen. They get struck down by a disease and pinned there.

Here are just a few of the ways in which poor health can impact your life.

It impacts on your job

If you’re not out on sick days, you’re sat in a meeting unable to concentrate on anything other than how terrible you feel.

And that’s if you’re even capable of holding down a job at all.

It impacts on your hobbies

Love hiking? That’ll be difficult when you’re struck down with chronic fatigue. Ditto, if you want to play any kind of sport, be part of a society or even hang out with friends.

It impacts on your ability to travel

In ways you wouldn’t normally imagine. To manage my condition I have a restricted diet including no wheat or sugar. Most foreign hostels don’t usually cater for gluten free, no sugar diets, meaning any exotic location I dream of is now tampered by logistical food restrictions.

It impacts your relationships

Your true family and friends would never leave you if you got really sick. But there will be days you get frustrated and upset that, no matter how sympathetic the people around you are, no one really knows what you’re going through.

It is impossible to truly understand how someone feels unless you have been there yourself. It’s no one’s fault but that doesn’t stop the sense of loneliness from creeping in.

Of course no one can predict getting sick and it certainly isn’t your fault if you do – sometimes, that’s just the card life deals out. But what you can do is take steps to allow your body the best chance of coping with whatever might come your way.

Whether you’re already living with an illness or still healthy, there is some wisdom that we could all do with following:

Diet
Eat healthy, yes but more than that, learn about food. Take time to really discover what goes into food items these days and how much fat, sugar or chemicals you’re consuming. Don’t just blindly follow a diet someone gave you, create your own! Each body is individual, so everyone should have their own tailored diet plan.

Stress
Minimise your stress by figuring out how to spot the signs. In today’s world everyone is constantly moving – partying, gossiping, working – but very rarely fully relaxing.

That feeling you have, like you’re constantly on edge or buzzing with adrenaline? That’s not normal. Our bodies are designed to use the stress hormones as temporary measures. If you find yourself hyped up more often than you’re relaxed, you need to schedule some immediate down time.

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Are you hindering your own recovery?

This is my bold promise for 2015: I will do everything in my power to recover from Fibromyalgia. I am under no illusions that it might not happen but I know that it is possible and if I don’t try it will go down as a huge regret later in my life.

Treading the path to recovery isn’t easy. It isn’t linear or smooth and because of this there are some thoughts and frustrations that can crop up and become road blocks in their own right.

  • Only focusing on what you haven’t achieved

I’ve been told twice lately how much better I seem from a month ago (this is following starting my no-sugar diet). Thinking objectively they are right – my pain is much less. However, at the time I hadn’t thought of this. All I had been noticing was the digestive trouble and disturbed sleep cycles that are still issues. I was so focused on getting 100% better that I was blinding myself to all the good progress I had already made.

It’s important to stop and take stock of progress and congratulate yourself on any progress you have made.

  • Seeing relapses as colossal failures

I have a lot of digestive issues. I’ve had them for almost a decade, so it’s no surprise it’s such an issue with my Fibromyalgia. However, having cut out wheat, sugar & alcohol it’s very difficult not to get frustrated and disheartened when it plays up; it causes me to obsess over the stress it is placing on my body. It’s hard not to be thinking, ‘what more do I need to do here?!’

At times like these it is important to remember that recovery is not a linear process. There will be little – and large – pitfalls and set backs. The disfunctions in my body did not appear overnight so putting things right is also going to take time. But that doesn’t mean I’m not still making progress.

Remember the mantra, two steps forward, one step back.

  • Not believing in yourself

I believe I can recover from my condition. I wholeheartedly believe that to be true. I am strong enough to do it because I am also stubborn enough to take my health back. Whenever someone asks me about my goal I tell them that though I may not get 100% better I will do everything to try. I believe in myself enough to have the confidence to turn my life upside down if I have to.

In terms of your health, life, career, love life, etc you are your greatest champion. People may find your goals, path or ambition ludicrous; they may try to gently persuade you out of it for fear of your failure. But it is you who knows the best path for you and only you know whether you can get there. And what the best way is for you to get there.

You’ve forgiven others, now forgive yourself

A few years ago I fell prey to the ‘fantasy relationship’ syndrome: the degrading situation of creating a romantic situation where there isn’t one.

Sadly, this situation seems to exist far more than any of us would like and is even acknowledged in Hollywood – remember Gigi in He’s Just Not That Into You? She spent the majority of the film constructing a relationship that didn’t exist anywhere, except in her head.

Now, it’s Hollywood, so of course her situation ended happily with the guy actually falling for her. But this is far from the case in real life.

I built a romantic yarn in my head around a complete fallacy. I took tiny things – like him sending me a message on facebook – and blew them out of proportion, convincing myself that it had a deeper meaning.

Any rational mind wouldn’t have found anything in it but mine did.

Inevitably I was used and humiliated. I’d basically offered it up to him and, unsurprisingly, he took it without giving anything back; as much as we wish everyone had the moral compass of Ghandi, most people don’t.  To be fair, I had walked right into the situation and though I did finally say, ‘no, I have more self respect than this’ I had still constructed this thing entirely on my own in the first place.

There was the time of hating him and cherishing the thought of him being sad and alone forever but I did finally manage to let go of my anger and resentment toward this person.

Instead I started blaming myself.

I would randomly think about it and be reminded that I had created such a stupid situation and the silent and semi-subconsious self bashing would begin.

But blaming myself wasn’t better.

We are human, we make mistakes. We hope for the best and dream about what we don’t currently have. We live in a culture where romance and meaning is arguably dead so I don’t find it at all surprising that girls (and guys) seek something real. And sometimes this yearning slips into fantasy.

That is why we fall prey to this situation. Because we want something beautiful and perhaps, we’ve gotten a little tired of waiting. We want someone to cherish and love us. It’s not a crime.

But, if you have made this mistake, it’s okay. Despite what the other person might say, you are not crazy or psychotic*. You’re a human who makes mistakes. Learn from it. Forgive yourself. And accept that sometimes a ‘hey, how you doin’?’ is just a standard greeting.

*Of course, if it seems like you do this with every guy/girl you meet, there may be other underlying issues that should probably be addressed. Doing this once is a mistake. Creating fantasy relationships from every interaction isn’t – that is a problem.