Endometriosis Self-Care Essentials
Last updated: April 2020
Self-care isn’t just nice-to-do when you have a chronic illness like endometriosis, it’s a must do. When you’re dealing with chronic pain or debilitating fatigue, you really don’t have much choice than to take time out. But we can really start to see the benefits of self-care when we make it part of our routine, and make our health and wellbeing a priority.
The importance of self-care
As someone who has lived with endometriosis for about 10 years and as a health practitioner who treats women with endometriosis, I can wholeheartedly say that prioritizing self-care is a key strategy for managing the disease.
Why is self-care so important? Firstly, it puts you the patient in the driver’s seat. It can feel incredibly disempowering and isolating to be given a diagnosis of endometriosis, so do what you can to take charge of your situation. Prioritizing your self-care will help manage your stress levels and will help you manage your health.
Rediscover me time
If your day is so filled with tasks and you can’t recall the last time you did something just for you, then it’s time to rediscover me time. Me time isn’t selfish it’s a key part of self-care. It doesn’t need to be complicated or expensive. Think about what makes you happy. It could be reading your favorite book, savoring a cup of tea, writing, drawing, or spending time in nature.
Having ‘me-time’ is crucial if you have a demanding job. The best way to make sure you have ‘me-time’ is by scheduling it in, so block out a day or a few hours at least in the diary.
My favorite way to practice self-care is meditation - I schedule 10 minutes every morning as soon as I wake to meditate and now, I couldn’t start the day without it! I practice yoga every day – even if it’s only 10 minutes.
Learn to say no
Ultimately, learning to say no is about learning to prioritize your needs. Saying no doesn’t mean you’re rude or unkind, it’s just about deciding if saying yes is really worth it. Living with a chronic illness like endometriosis teaches us we need to prioritize; learning how to say no helps with this. It can be hard to say no even when you don’t feel well, because you might be concerned about missing out. It’s hard but necessary to say no sometimes, because you won’t enjoy yourself if your symptoms are too overwhelming.
Listen to your body
It takes a lot of courage and honesty to take a step back and say “I’m not ok”. Sometimes, you need to take a sick day, cancel plans, or reschedule. Be honest with yourself and develop a sense of self-compassion; There are some days where you’ll have energy, other days where you are exhausted and deep down you know it’s time to rest. Allow yourself to have time out when you need to and be kind to yourself.
Find your tribe
One of the most important parts of self-care is finding others who understand what you’re going through and surrounding yourself with people who are supportive. Finding your tribe can help transform your journey with endometriosis, and make it a more positive experience.
Finding my tribe was one of the most positive things that’s happened to me, I’ve connected with some incredible women because of my journey with endometriosis and adenomyosis. At first it was reaching out and connecting with others on social media, then I discovered Qendo, a not-for-profit organization who supports anyone affected by endometriosis, adenomyosis, PCOS, and infertility. I’ve met some amazing women through Qendo. Helping others is a wonderful way to increase your sense of happiness and connection with people.
Find your favorite way to move
We all know exercise is good for us, but it’s about finding what works for you. When you’re in the middle of a flare, exercising won’t be possible, but on the good days find what works for you. It could be anything from walking, going to the gym, yoga or tai chi.
If you enjoy it, you’re far more likely to do it often and reap the health benefits. Not only is physical activity good for your body, but it can help you cope with stress and helps with energy levels too.
As a nutritionist, you would expect me to prioritize food, but I started eating well when I was diagnosed with endometriosis; I found that my diet has been crucial to how well I function and is directly related to my symptoms, so for me it’s a non-negotiable.
Eating well for me isn’t just about the health benefits, it’s also something I enjoy doing because I eat food that’s uncomplicated and delicious. What you eat is a key component of self-care because by eating well it can optimie your health and help manage symptoms. It’s also empowering, because ultimately you have the power to decide what goes into your mouth.
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