12 messages you might not know that I use to keep positive – Day 5 Invisible Illness Week

So today day 5 of the invisible illness awareness week I wanted follow on from my post yesterday; where I went through how having a positive mindset can have very real profound impacts on the body and physical health.

Yesterday I discussed various scientific studies and the science behind mindset on the body, but today I want to go down a different route and talk about how I personally keep on top of my mindset.

Wellness Wall

I mentioned this very briefly in yesterday post, but I want to go into this in more detail.

So what do I use it for?

Well whenever I am feeling stressed, upset, frustrated, sad or just need a bit of a pick me up  I give it a read and repeat which ever one is most appropriate.

I have my wall in my bedroom, in particular somewhere I can see it from bed. This is because often I need the biggest pick me up/ inspiration as mornings are my worst time, but also I  sometimes get the most stressed when I am trying to get to sleep, as the things I have done in the day or things i have to do the next day are whizzing around in my head.

I am a very colorful and visual person so it was important that my wall reflected that.

But even more importantly than the visual appeal are the  12 messages that they convey.
Wellness Wall

1. Consistency over Intensity
I particularly look at this one when I think I am not phasing back into work quick enough.

I have to keep remembering that its not about me doing the most amount of hours or tasks right now, but that I can continually do that amount and slowly increase, rather than pushing and the crashing

2. Less is More
I went from being able to juggle a million different things before I began to suffer from CFS/ME, from working full time, studying, chairing a charity as well as having a super active social life.

This helps to remind me that the quality of activities now especially social activities is far more important than the quantity of events I go to.

3. The little train that says: I know I can, I know I can, I know I can: I can do this!
So this is one of my favorite ones and has got be through some really tough times, from doing things when I am in pain from anxiety in relation to exams.

It’s a great one! Just imagine a little train and the rhythm it makes and say it over and over to yourself. It is fab for short term tasks.

4. It is OK to ask for HELP
This is such an important one. For a long time I found it hard to ask for help, call it being too proud or not wanting to feel I have lost my independence.

But asking for help, is nothing to be ashamed about. You really have nothing to loose and everything to gain 🙂

5. I Will, I Can, I Am
This is more of a long term one and something that Toby Morrison came up with.

You can do this with many aspects of your life an example of this would be:

  • When I was off work on sick leave, I said to myself ‘I will get back to work’
  • As I was preparing to go back I said to myself : ‘I will get back to work’ ‘I can volunteer for 2 hours’
  • Then when I was ready I was ‘I am back at work’.

Then my I WILL, I CAN, I AM shifted to:’ I will get to working to FT hours’ and now I am on ‘I CAN work 7 hours a week’ and I have the confidence that eventually I will be able to say, I AM working FT.

6. Accept the things I cannot Change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the  difference.
I am not a religious person but this is an none religious version of the serenity pryer. I think it is really powerful statement hence why it is at the very center of my wellness wall.

I know that having CFS/ME is something that I cannot change, thus accepting  that I have this illness was vital the beginning of my recovery, rather than wasting energy on denial or wishing it wasn’t so.

But there are so many things you can do not necessarily to cure your illness but to make your life that little bit better.

7. Celebrate the Little Wins
This is all about not comparing myself to what I used to be able to do. So today for example marks the 5th week I have managed to consistently go in to work for my designated hours, that would never have been an achievement before but now its a great milestone.

8. Slow Down
This is one of the ones I use the least but to be honest should use the most. I really wish that I used this when I am trying to do way to much, which ultimately leads to a crash.
My problem is when I need to read my wall it is because I am struggling, where as when I need the advise to slow down, it is when I am starting to feel normal again and jumping in head first, before realising I’m diving into wet concrete .. before you know it your back to not being able to move again 😦

I think slow down might make a good background on my o so trusted iPhone, or something like slow and steady wins the race, which is o so true with people suffering from CFS/ME.

9. Know you Limits
When I am scheduling out my next weeks activities, I tend to like to have a little glade at my wall but even when I don’t physically look at it, I am very much imagining this card.

Know your limits, this is such a personal one and only something you can truly know. I know for me this will vary massively, for example this week I have way over done it as my sister was back from overseas for only a short period of time, and whilst I did pace to a degree. I know over the weekend and next week I am going to suffer from massive amounts of payback. But to you know what for me it was worth it, I don’t get to spend enough time with her.

But then equally when a friend or even my sister suggests to do something, ‘Know your limits’ pops up in my head, and I might turn down the activity or suggest a different one that is best fitted to my ability at the time.

10. Accept, Adjust, Believe, Achieve
I love love love this. This is very a corner stone for my long term recovery and comes from Toby Morrison. But I think it encompasses a lot about how I view long term recovery into one nice little phrase.

Accept- Well like I mentioned above and in a previous post acceptance of your condition is crucial. Without acceptance you really cannot move forward at all, you will waste energy on so many things from: getting angry about why this is happening to you, trying to find some miracle cure or flat out denial where you over exert yourself which can have devastating consequences.

Adjust- I think adjusting to what you can do now can be really hard, and I for one really struggled to stop comparing myself to others or even more so my old-self. It is about just adjusting to what you can do now, and implementing things in your life that can increase the quality/ comfort of your life.

Believe- Believe you can get better or at the very least have a better quality of life! My post yesterday talked about how having a positive mindset can really have some quite profound bodily reactions.

Achieve- For me this isn’t just achieving perfect health again, but getting to a point where I can achieve specific goals and mile stones, and once those have been achieved setting more goals and rethinking my ‘Adjusts’ & ‘Beliefs’ so that I can achieve them as well.

11. Appreciate the non headache
This is a phrase I heard a long time ago, and comes from Buddhist teaching (I think anyway!).

I think in this day and age unless something is like ‘O My God this is Amazing!!’ or is going wrong (either big or small) we simply don’t register it.

So in normal day life we tend to just be a bit numb and focus on the amazing but more often the things that are going wrong or things that annoy us in our lives and that is even without adding in the extra awfulness of having CFS/ME, where these amazing experiences tend to happen even less frequently.

Instead of this take the time to appreciate the now, it is more about practicing gratitude, take note that right now your doing ok, that you don’t have that headache, or you weren’t fully bed bound today.

For me it is about appreciating when things are ok, non eventful, not quite as bad as yesterday.

A good way of starting this way of thinking is to think of at least one thing a day you are grateful for, and I think doing this over time really goes a long way to having a positive mindset.

12. Don’t worry about what others think.
This is soooo hard, and I often look at this when I have loved ones telling me what they think I should or shouldn’t be doing or how I should be feeling.

I think this is one of the hardest things to overcome and I wish I had more advise to give, rather than just let it go over your head, which I know is sometimes impossible. But if anyone has any great ideas for this one I would love to hear them.

Final thoughts- Having a positive mindset does not mean being happy all the time.
Well I wanted to finish this post with saying having a positive mindset does not mean being the most optimistic person happy clappy person in the world, who never focuses on the negatives.

Because I mean who does that? Really I mean 100% of the time we are all human after all! I know for a fact I most certainly am not, don’t get me wrong I have a good cry now and then when things haven’t gone my way or when I get frustrated at my current circumstances.

For me having a positive mindset means that the frustration or negativity passes rather than bogging you down.

I mean this is a really crappy illness who wouldn’t have a little pity party now and then, when you want to do something outside of your current limitations, the pain or fatigue just gets so bad you can’t even roll over in bed yourself; I think I would get worried if I was happy all the time but its just about accepting how you are feeling addressing it and just setting it free and look at what you are grateful in your life.

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