We all have things that we automatically do when we are sick or feeling low, a kind of “wellness emergency kit” full of tools like your favourite CD, a hot compress, that favourite pair of pyjamas, or the classic, homemade bowl of soup. What do you prescribe when you’re forced to nurse yourself?
Here are some of the tools in my wellness emergency kit:
Hot showers: A quick, hot shower loosens up my body and soothes any inflammation I am feeling. Afterwards, I feel fresh and more ready to deal with the physical pain and stress I am experiencing.
Naps: Napping has always been an integral part of how I manage lupus. I always try napping first before taking any additional pain medication like tylenol. Although, I always say that I have “sleeps” rather than naps. It’s nearly impossible for me to nap less than two hours!
A steaming cup of decaffeinated tea: My top and most frequent choices are ginger, peppermint, lemon balm, and indian spice.
Steamed plantains: For as long as I can remember, my mom has cooked plantains for our family, mostly in the pan fried form with a sprinkle of brown sugar. When I was experimenting with nutrition and trying to cut out sugar, she encouraged me to steam them. They are healthy, naturally sweet, warm, filling, and my ultimate comfort food when I’m feeling sick and secretly wanting someone to take care of me. It’s as if my mom is in the kitchen making them for me!
Watching an episode of The Daily Show: I tend to watch Jon Stewart online (I don’t have a TV) at the end of a long day or when I am feeling sick because I know I’m guaranteed a laugh out loud moment. No matter what has happened or how I am feeling, ending the day with laughter puts things in perspective.
Fuzzy socks and fuzzy blankets: Making sure I’m warm is always a top priority when I’m feeling sick. My sock drawer is overflowing with thick and fuzzy socks and I have several blankets in my apartment aside from those on my bed. I’ve also been known to sit in front of my little heater, as well!
Candles: Creating a peaceful, quiet atmosphere when I am dealing with pain (physical or otherwise) is important to me. Softening the lighting in a room calms and helps me focus on getting through the sensations I’m feeling.
An epic fantasy novel: In the past, escaping into a really good novel has really helped me in the recovery process. Recently, I’ve fallen in love with fantasy authors like Guy Gavriel Kay and George R. R. Martin, but any great piece of writing will do the trick. The short opportunities to let go of my story/present moment and lose myself in someone else’s helped ensure that I wasn’t swallowed up by the fear, stress, and pressure that come with the recovery process. I found that when I did come back to my story, I felt less overwhelmed and more ready to face my circumstances and move forward.
A little help from my friends: When I am feeling really sick, I tend to want to be alone, but I’ve tried to teach myself that it’s okay to call a friend or take a quick drive to be with family. It’s hard to ask for help and not feel dependent or incompetent, but it’s important to remind yourself that sometimes the healing is in the company you keep.