In the fall of 2020, I received my Nutritious Life Certification at https://nutritiouslife.com , and through this process I learned about the 8 pillars of living a nutritious life. The more I learned, the more I realized how equally important each is to our overall well-being. As I have implemented each one more into my own life, I believe that there is one that seems more difficult than the others, and that is self-care.
There are so many self-care items and services on the market today, but our society places a lot of emphasis on caring for others first. Now, don’t get me wrong, caring for others is extremely important, but there is a balance that must be struck to make sure we aren’t sacrificing our own health and well-being in the process. Afterall, if we aren’t taking care of ourselves, how can we possibly be our best for those we love the most? Women, especially, struggle with this, as we are nurturers, mothers, and oftentimes the primary caretakers for aging parents.
In May 2018, I woke up one morning and was in such excruciating pain from my neck all the way down to my toes that I could hardly get out of the bed. I managed to get up, but with the slightest move, I struggled to not cry out due to what I was experiencing. Something was wrong. One of my daughters helped me to get dressed and got me to the doctor. My doctor began to run a multitude of tests. Through steroids and over the counter pain relievers, I did receive some immediate relief from the pain, but we all wanted answers, and I needed answers quickly! Those tests ruled out the markers for some possibilities, but still no diagnosis. The next step was for me to see a rheumatologist.
I learned that it was going to be several weeks before my appointment with the rheumatologist, which was discouraging. I didn’t like how the steroids made me feel and knew that I didn’t want to continue taking them, nor did I want to continue on even an over-the-counter medication if I didn’t have to. I began to think about what I could do for myself to help relieve my issues. Self-care had to become a priority, and I knew that the perfect place to start was with food. I had always eaten well, but there was room for improvement.
As I looked closely at my diet and researched inflammatory and anti-inflammatory foods, I realized that I needed to incorporate more of certain foods into my diet and eliminate others. Immediately, dairy, refined sugar, gluten, and processed foods were removed. I added more fish with omega-3s, fruits and vegetables, beans, and nuts and seeds. Within 3 weeks, the positive effects became evident, and I was beginning to feel better. I no longer was taking steroids and only taking one over-the-counter pain reliever per day. The difference in how I felt was amazing, not only was the pain better, but I was feeling better than ever. As a bonus, my skin was glowing and my hair and nails were healthier. I became a believer! the foods that we take in truly make a difference in not only how well we are nourished and how we feel, but in also how we look!
Once I was able to see the rheumatologist and after many tests, I was diagnosed with Sjogren’s Syndrome, which is an autoimmune disorder that causes your immune system to attack cells and tissues by mistake. In my case, the worst symptom, along with a couple of smaller ones, was the joint pain. By this point, the pain was amazingly better and my rheumatologist was in full agreement with my food plan along with one prescription drug used to treat certain autoimmune diseases.
My Sjogren’s isn’t going away, but thankfully, is in remission now, and I have been pain free for over 2 years now and am able to do anything physically that I want to do.
The initial Sjogren’s flare was probably triggered by extreme stress, and I knew I needed to reduce my stress, learn some ways to deal with stress, and just take more time for self care on a daily basis. One of the ways I have found to help me is by taking time each morning to journal. Per the suggestion of my life coach, Kathryn Ely, at https://empowercounselingllc.com/ , I came up with several questions that I ask myself each morning and then journal the answers.
My questions are:
- What am I grateful for this morning?
- Who do I want to be today?
- What can I do today that will take me out of my comfort zone?
- What can I do today to pamper myself?
- What do I value in myself and how do I want to apply it to my day?
By asking myself these questions and writing down the answers first thing each morning, my mindset on my day is where it needs to be, and I have clarity. This act of self-care has become a daily ritual I never miss. It has been amazing to me how it helps me to cope with stress as I move through my day.
Days at the spa, manis and pedis are all great, but there are so many acts of self care that can easily be done throughout the day. Some examples are breathing deeply on occasion, keeping your home and workspace tidy, drinking plenty of water, and speaking kindly to yourself, and eating nutritiously. I would encourage you to think about ways you can care for yourself better each day and do it! You and those you care for will be glad you did!