Updated: Jul 28, 2022
General abbreviated transcript to podcast, excerpt from Oddball the Resilience Guide
This is a continuation of simple but effective steps to take that work effectively together, given the time and consistency. Part 1 can be found HERE.
Self-care not only help alleviate chronic pain and stress, but work wonders if you are looking for an anti-aging lifestyle. Here is an excerpt of my memoir and also of my resilience guide. These are all connected to the process of honoring ourselves, via self-care and an introduction to the role of dreams and sleep in health, self-care and anti-aging!
Conscious Breathing, Water and Food
I am grateful for my senses and try my best to bring pleasure to all of them. Mindful meditation and conscious breathing help me tremendously when I am stressed and anxious. I literally make a note on it in my schedule: “Breathe and drink water.” And I glance at it regularly to remind myself. You can use an alarm clock or an app to remind you if really prefer technology. I prefer soft and comfortable clothing, great tasting food/drinks, fragrances or smells of nature and of course music and pleasing sounds, ocean waves, binaural beats, and singing. For sight in my private spaces, pleasing décor, ongoing de-cluttering and the use of Feng Shui to maintain order and increase positive energy flow.
One of the things you may hear much about is diet and pain management. I get dizzy thinking about how much conflicting information there is out there. This diet versus that diet, and at the end some industry is getting rich experimenting with desperate people looking for health and going broke. I can’t advocate for any specific trendy diet. I can only say that even on a limited budget, I try to stay with lots of hydration, vegetables, fruits, good lean sources of protein, and mixed grains.
Full disclosure: It is no secret I am addicted to sugar. It is my one Achilles’s heal I try to contain but always gets me. I can tell you that I am sure that doesn’t help my pain but I don’t over indulge so much that is the cause of it either. We need glucose, no matter what the latest trends say. Our brains depend on it. But refined sweets, not so much. The way I deal with it is adding more naturally sweet whole foods to my diet like eating fruit and sweet potatoes, cocoa in the form of chocolate to reduce the cravings I get.
In Oddball: Building Resilience through Self-Care, The Guide, you will see some of the foods we gravitate too often to for pleasure that aren’t good in the long run. There is also generally recommended good sources to try. Personally, I am happy with my food choices. My only issue is being able to afford organic, fresh foods. I, of course, would recommend you go with your own tastes, preferences, doctor and nutritionist’s suggestions for your specific health needs and take it with a grain of salt
Dream and Sleep
Sleep is extremely important to me. It is so important that now we are discovering an awakening about sleeps' importance, pun intended. I am writing a full length book on dreams, sleep, sleep spaces/design; that's how much I think sleep is essential. Since I already have special sleeping needs, I have to be extra vigilant about how much sleep I get. I can’t say, like many sleeping “experts” do, that you must maintain a regular sleeping schedule. It just doesn’t make sense for today’s world. This, whether some people like it or not, is a world where sleeping 8 hours at night is the way to live. People are traveling globally, doing all kinds of work which are not 9 to 5, living creative lifestyles and dealing with life challenges that just aren’t going to make that strict sleep schedule possible, which you can see from the prominence of sleeping disorders and issues.
Because of my oddball sleep needs, I‘ve always known this. It was torture, no exaggeration, to have to conform to what the world claimed the proper sleeping schedules are. From all my experiences and experimentation I found that sleeping, whenever I can and am tired, is simply what works for me. I know that may many people have a life that can’t just drop off to sleep anytime, anywhere. I am saying that when it is possible, make an effort to sleep more when your body is asking for it. There is a reason your body is craving rest.
Grooming, Beauty, and Feeling Good
How we present ourselves to ourselves and others matters. It has an effect. This, as I mention in the hygiene and grooming action section, is “presence”. It shows things about ourselves we may not even be aware. How I present myself shows how I feel emotionally, physically, and spiritually. Am I depressed, feeling centered, worried, excited, am I peaceful, feeling sexy? Many times we can tell just by being around the person. That’s not to say we are always correct. We should be conservative in judging because one never knows for sure. But for the most part, we can be astonishingly correct.
For me, preparing to go out includes my grooming. I care about my appearance and if you read Facing My Ugly and Age Me Better you’ll understand why it matters to me. Through trial and error I created a routine that works for me and know that other can do the same. This has inspired me to brand my own products with ingredients, results and values I believe in now can share with others.
Beauty is subjective and yet there are general standards that are included. The idea of order, intention, care, cleanliness, and creativity. I am not a beauty as is considered by the beauty and media industry. I came to terms with that decades ago. What does matter to me, especially as I age, is that I make the most of what I do have and that makes me happy. That always shows, so I try to emanate love, love for self, love for others, acceptance, and lightheartedness and surprisingly that shows physically. I use what I like aesthetically, colors, styles, type of clothing, make-up, fragrances, accessories and work to accept the parts that I personally don’t find attractive.
No one thinks acne is cute for instance, but it is a fact of life for me and millions. I do my best to heal it and cover it so it is not infected and visible to the point where someone is staring. On my bad days, and I have plenty, where the pain is extreme and I am having issues with my appearance, I have to suck it up. I move forward anyway knowing this is part of my life. There is no point in pretending there such a thing as perfection. If I’m at ease, life is better and it reverberates out to others. A win-win in my opinion.
Meditation, Chanting, Singing and Imagination
I meditate in bits and pieces. Sometimes more than others, but I definitely meditate. I don’t do anything fancy or complicated. I do simple, mindful meditation by watching my breathing and quiet observation. I can meditate for as little as 30 seconds up to 20 minutes. Usually, I do it in 5-minute increments. There are so many types of meditation that I can’t imagine my life without doing it to bring me back to the present moment. I also chant regularly.
With chanting, I think or utter specific sounds, words, or phrases known to create a state of awareness. You will see some throughout this book and in my previous books. What I chant depends on what resonates with me. I usually am attracted to Sanskrit terms for some reason but plain English words l like “peace” or “Amen”, work just as well. I may also find a Hebrew turn of phrase as a way to get closer to my spiritual center.
When I am fatigued and really need energy I will chant Pavan Guru. This is a Sanskrit request to get prana (life source energy) from the Infinite Source. The full version is:
Pavan, Pavan, Pavan, Pavan
Par Paraa, Pavan Guru
Wahe Guru, Wahe Guru Pavan Guru.
For some reason, it always works. I am not saying it works immediately but sooner or later, after a nap or a few hours, I will definitely feel good enough to get up and get some things done.
I sang ever since I was a child in the churches we visited. I had plans to continue singing because I loved music so much until I had my traumatic and embarrassing incident at 11 years old. After that, I would have issues remembering lyrics and I thought I’d never sing professionally again. I vowed to never sing again. And I didn’t until I was 35 years-old and my spiritual awakening reminded me it that I would survive no matter what happened. That’s when I met the music community in the city of my birth that welcomed me with open arms and allowed me to express myself in this soulful way once again. Even if people laugh now, I laugh with them, because life is precious and in the end what matters is how one handles these situations and I make an effort to exercise grace.
Movement, Posture, and Exercise
Even with proactive preparation, there are times the pain and lack of sleep cause me to have to cancel and reschedule appointments. This is a reason I can’t do the industrial revolution 9-5, Monday through Friday schedule. When I am home, there are times I am completely bed-bound.
Whatever energy I do take is to bathe, try to eat something that is nutrient rich, and take care of my precious animal companion. Cooking is very exhausting and I do desire, want, and make every effort to eat as healthy as possible. Many times, I have to resort to pre-made meals, shakes, bars, and supplements. Then I crawl back in bed and pray that I’ll regain my energy to do normal daily tasks. Even taking a shower can leave me so exhausted I literally have to lie down for a few minutes to regain strength and energy.
Moving is very hard to do when you are in pain. But again it depends on the pain. If you are healing from an injury, speak to a physician and proper specialist so you can continue to heal and not make the injury worse. For me when it comes to my overall body pain and fatigue, moving despite the extreme pain is actually helpful.
I try to stand and do soft yoga moves like gentle stretches, including hand gestures called mudras, when meditating or when I am stiff and inflammation is at its peak. Again this is assuming I have had enough rest. Moving when you are already taxed physically is counter-productive and makes my pain worse. Stretching and being aware of various parts of my body and gently giving myself massages in various areas releases heat and pressure.
I also am exploring various essential oils known for hundreds of years to be useful in relieving pain, inducing pleasure, aiding mental health, including aromatherapy, topical uses and some ingested. As with everything else, do some research. This is what is working for me and may or may not work for you. I use them in both the diffuser and topically and it is a very gentle way to induce pleasure and alleviate pain and stress.
If you do anything that requires sitting a lot, make it a point to stand on a regular basis to stretch out, walk around, and get your juices flowing. I have also become super aware of my posture while standing, sitting, and walking, I use a reminder by jotting it down or using an alarm until it becomes a natural habit. Energy moves through our body, ranging from our circulatory system, hormones, nutrients, to electromagnetic and spiritual energy. If we are in a physical position where energy gets blocked, we are going to feel it sooner or later.
I make an effort to restrict unhealthy repetitive movements that can put strain or wear and tear on certain parts of my body known as repetitive strain injury. Just ask anyone with carpal tunnel syndrome, “text neck syndrome”, or shoulder damage. I am right-handed so many years of over moving this side led to damage on the shoulder, wrist, and right hip. Now I make a herculean effort to distribute my movement and weight to include my left side as well. It makes an incredible difference in reducing pain.
I have worked out since I was 25. It is one of the most important parts of my life. Because of I am often in so much pain, I have had to change the way I work out. This is unfortunate because our bodies naturally hit plateaus and that means we have to push our bodies harder to reach the same fitness results we had in the past. I work out at home, though I am not opposed to working out in a gym. However, it is more affordable to work out at home and I can do it privately at any time. I work out despite the pain most of the time. I take an over the counter anti-inflammatory like ibuprofen and just go for it. Rest assured it is worth it, but I will have to lay down after bathing to restore my energy. You can see how living like this can have a huge impact on my social life and personal relationships.
Medication, Supplements and Devices
I do not enjoy taking pills. The medication I choose to take and stay with is Cymbalta’s generic version Duloxetine for fibromyalgia, panic, and anxiety. It has its side-effects and I am not one to recommend medications in general. If you are considering taking any medication for pain, anxiety, and depression do as much research as you can, including reading reviews which are known to be valid online.
For me and for now, Duloxetine has aided me by reducing panic attacks, which were pretty frequent and severe. Before this, I did take flaxseed gel caps and that did help reduce the attacks a bit but not the overall anxiety. I can’t say it’s done much for the fibromyalgia or physical pain. Ideally, I would like to be off this medication and stay with natural supplements and nutrients. I have found that certain supplements which include vitamins, minerals and herbs are simply wonderful. Magnesium taken both orally and in topical form helps me naturally relax and reduced my heart palpitations as no prescribed medication did.
Additionally, take vitamin D, anti inflammatories like tumeric/curcumin whenever possible, I also take SAM-e and prebiotics/probiotics. I, of course, would prefer all these came from food alone but unfortunately due to processing and other issues it is not possible to get all nutrients from food. I also take allergy medication since the inflammation affects my sinuses. Ironically, this medication helps with the overall inflammation and relieves the sinus headache and congestion that fogs my thinking and makes me miserable. But it is pricey and I do tons of work to try to find the sources of external allergens so I don’t have to take as much allergy medication. I also recently discovered guaifenesin which is the expectorant used in some cold medicine and does provide a bit of relief for the fibro. At minimum for me it provides relieve from the inflammation I feel in my sinuses.
Some of these strategies are as simple as dusting and having as little clutter as possible. Others included buying a salt lamp and a negative ion generator. I can’t say the problem is completely gone but I am able to work and focus much more than without these adjustments.
There are devices and tools I use to help with certain body aches and pains. In addition to the basic mat, dumbbells, and a balance ball, I use the stretching bands which are affordable and are often used in physical therapy sessions. Some of the devices like the cervical neck traction device is a simple inflatable collar which helps relieve the pressure in the neck. Or an adjustable posture corrector to ensure I am not slouching and making my pain worse.
As stated above I also take a topical CBD cream and occasionally an over-the-counter pain relief pad. Again, the relief is minimal but in combination with all I do, it helps relieve the pain enough for me to be functional when I need it.
Healthy Relationships, an Ongoing Process
As an empath in this social world, healthy relationships are crucial to my wellbeing. Because of my upbringing being (too) polite, I was afraid of speaking my truth and mind. This led me to be around some people that took advantage of this. I was fully aware I was not happy in these situations but I simply didn’t have a strategy to create healthy boundaries. No amount of psychology training can prepare you for real-life transactions. Only by can one stretch outside the not-so-comfortable zone.
Declaring my right to be respected, honored, cared for, and loved is worth any so-called losses in relationship I may encounter. I have included this as the final dynamic exercise you can do to re-establish your inherent sovereignty. There will be some people who at all costs will want to be around you because they benefit from you in the relationship while you may be the sacrificing in every way and losing out. Fear, rationalization, and pressure may keep us entrapped in unhealthy relationships but that is what building healthy boundaries is all about. You don’t shut the world out, instead, you create criteria that is pliable and healthy to allow enriching relationships in and keep toxic ones out.
This can be done for every level of relationships from family, intimate partners, friends, colleagues to strangers. Know that it will be challenging but so worth your peace of mind and for the highest good of all, because giving a toxic person your energy is ultimately no good for you or them.
It has taken practice and trial and error to attempt to master the process of boundary building. All the triggers go off and I feel guilty at times for taking and owning my energy. Then I remember that I can’t give any form of energy to anyone or any-thing if I am not in a state of health, having enough energy for my own balance, health, clear-thinking, and harmony.
After my Dark Night of the Soul, when I wandered out of my shell, I made plenty of mistakes regarding my health, money, and happiness. But there were good times and incredibly fun people I encountered. As I say in my purposeful redundancy, life is a spectrum of experiences. It wasn’t all bad, all dark, all this or all that. I was able to capture some of the fun people and experiences in my heart, memories and of course photos.
Wishing You Wholeness