There are times in most of our lives when our health and energy become a problem – to the point that it gets in the way of us having the most magnificent life possible. Those damn bodies of ours, right? Er, no. Listen, your body is the machine that gets it all done, so taking care of it (plus your mental, emotional and spiritual health) is always your highest priority, because if you have poor health and no energy, it is incredibly difficult to do anything.
So, the first thing you must do when you have energy and health issues is listen to your body. Listen to the messages you’re being sent. And take excellent care of yourself. In my late 20’s I was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, which later turned out to be MS, but the consequences were exactly the same. I had days when I was so exhausted, I couldn’t get out of bed.
Having CFS/MS forced me to start taking care of myself: body, mind, heart and soul. It forced me to listen to the messages of my body – I discovered I couldn’t burn the candle at both ends and in the middle. It made me pay attention to what my body was saying and learn to do what I needed, not what I wanted to do. What I learned from the CFS diagnosis has stood me in good stead for the past 15 years: if I don’t listen to my body’s whispers, it will shout. And if I still don’t listen, I’ll be incapacitated.
I know that when you’re going through it, the illness or lack of energy is a pain in the arse, getting in the way of you living the life you want to lead. Unfortunately, the more you resist, the more you delay your recovery…and in some cases, you make yourself a lot worse. So, when you’re having energy or health issues, take notice of them. Listen to your body. Learn to give yourself the best care possible. Even if you feel restricted by it. Even if you really want to just carry on as if your body isn’t worn out.
Been there, done that. And I know with certainty that it just doesn’t work (I experimented extensively over 3-4 years with ignoring the symptoms, trying to ‘get back to normal’ too soon and doing too much…it never worked). Pay attention to your inner knowing, learn what you need to thrive – your health or energy issues are telling you something…what is it?
Once you figure out what you need, make sure you get help. From everywhere and everyone you can – friends, family, doctors, alternative practitioners, other people who have what you have. Depending on your health issues, this might not be easy – in my case, it was Auntie Google who helped – doctors could do nothing for CFS in the 90’s. But I found websites and communities who were talking about CFS and what helped, what they were doing and trying, what made it worse and how they were managing.
Just knowing other people were suffering with extreme fatigue helped. And a lot of their advice was very helpful. I also learned another important lesson – just because the medical establishment has no idea what to do, that doesn’t mean there is nothing to be done. Alternative and complimentary therapies are really helpful for CFS and MS (as well as many other illnesses and conditions), as are lifestyle changes.
Which brings me nicely to the next point: make the lifestyle changes you need to make to keep yourself healthy and energised. I didn’t want to, I wanted to carry on living life to the fullest – drinking, dancing, getting in at 7am on a weekend. But that lifestyle was making me ill. It took 3 years for me to realise I just couldn’t do it anymore. Sometimes those lifestyle changes will be temporary, but sometimes it’s a forever change and you will need to choose being healthy and energised over abusing your body.
Ultimately, health and energy challenges are asking us to pay attention to our bodies, to learn to take better care of ourselves. Since learning this myself, I have become a pulpit-basher for self-care. We cannot just give ourselves enough care to keep going – it’s not enough. And when you take better care of your car than you do yourself, it’s time to learn magnificent self-care.
Treat yourself as the most precious item in your life. You are. Start by being really gentle with yourself and honouring your body’s messages. Start with paying attention to the persistent headaches and finding their root cause to heal them, instead of masking the problem with medication. Start with hearing the often very unsubtle messages your body, mind, heart and soul are giving you; and responding to them with action that nurtures you.
In the face of many obstacles, I’ll tell you to just keep taking action, but not this one. With this one, make your health your highest priority. You can’t just replace your body when it wears out, it’s important that you get yourself in the best condition possible…and of course, once you are, or once you’re managing your symptoms, then you will want to get back to your Big Dreams and make ’em happen. But first, give your body the attention and care it needs.