Life is tough on its own. Add a chronic illness into the mix, and your day-to-day routine suddenly seems much more difficult. However, chronic illnesses take many forms and can be appropriately managed with the right attitude and willingness to adapt. It’s possible to feel a sense of normalcy, and many people accomplish this by developing what’s referred to as a wellness routine.
From the beginning of this year, I have started to work with a wellness team. It’s a team of people working together to help me to begin and maintain a wellness routine tailored explicitly to my condition. The team consists of a stress management specialist, pain management specialist, nutritionist, and physical health specialist. So far, they have navigated me through my anxiety, severe stress, chronic pain, and daily light exercise with my chronic condition (Thoracic Outlet Syndrome).
What is a Wellness Routine:
A wellness routine is a comprehensive schedule of habits and activities to promote wellness and self-care. It incorporates everything from your dietary choices to your mental and physical health. People living with cancer, osteoporosis, depression, or other chronic conditions have discovered ways to feel better using holistic methods that almost anybody can do.
Developing a wellness routine is to ultimately make you feel better in mind, body, and spirit. Chronic illnesses create a lot of stress, and that stress can resonate in several different ways. For example, perhaps you feel sore and achy all the time. Or maybe you can’t think clearly and lack the focus to make it through basic tasks.
Most often, those who have chronic pain get stressed during a flare-up, and the stress makes the pain even worse. So it’s like a vicious cycle. However, when you learn how to manage the situation and take the necessary steps, you will break this cycle and improve your quality of life.
Wellness Routine with Your Chronic Illness– Some Basic steps to follow:
A wellness routine is intended to help you fight off those stressors to feel calm and at peace. The following are some of the top methods you can incorporate into your daily routine.
#1 – The Morning Stretch
Stretching is a vastly underrated exercise. It increases the blood flow to your muscles and helps keep your body in good condition to take on more challenging activities. Upon waking up in the morning, take about ten minutes or so to give all your core muscle groups a nice stretch.
Make sure to get your arms, legs, neck, and torso area. For example, you can extend your arms high above your head and hold while stretching your legs. Hold that position for a few seconds, and remember to focus on your breathing. You’ll be surprised at how much better you feel after doing this. This little habit essentially preps your body to take on the day.
#2 – Always Stay Hydrated
Water is a miracle worker in the world of wellness. It improves brain performance, increases your energy, helps with weight management, and decreases joint pain. It’s critical to maintaining good health, especially if you live with a chronic condition.
The challenge with staying hydrated is that most people only drink water when they’re thirsty. To stay adequately hydrated, you’ll need to actively commit to drinking the recommended amount of water throughout the day. According to the U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, men should intake 3.7 liters of water per day while women should intake 2.7 liters per day. Of course, you can always check with your physician about how much water you should be drinking if you want their professional opinion.
#3 – Eat Healthy
Your body is a lot like a machine in some regards. It runs on food for fuel. If you give it energy high in sugar and unhealthy fats, you’ll notice that you feel sluggish and rundown. On the other hand, good fuel that balances healthy fats, protein, and complex carbohydrates will keep you feeling energized and mentally focused throughout the day.
You can develop a healthy eating plan on your own, or you can enlist the help of a nutritionist. There are also meal plans available that are health-conscious and easy to prepare.
Suggested read: What I learned about healthy eating + 8 Superfoods for healthy skin & hair
#4 – Incorporate Physical Activity
We can’t stress the importance of physical activity enough when it comes to your body’s health and wellness. Of course, there’s the obvious benefit of strengthening your bones and muscles, but did you also know that exercise helps keep you mentally sharp and focused? It also naturally improves your mood and mental health.
Try to get in at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise per day. That could be something simple as going on a brisk walk or bike ride. Or you can attend a workout class led by a professional trainer. Your workout doesn’t need to be complicated or super tricky. You just need to be consistent about doing them to see the benefit.
Suggested read: How To Start Exercising If You’re Overweight
#5 – Take Time to Meditate or Practice Your Breathing
As we mentioned earlier, chronic conditions create a ton of stress, which is where most physical pain and mental anguish originate from. Fortunately, the act of meditation has physical and mental benefits that will help melt those stressors away.
You can either attend a meditation class, buy a book on meditation, or download a meditation app to get started. Make sure you’re meditating for at least ten minutes per day (preferably longer) to see the full benefit. Meditation is a massive part of the wellness routine that should not be overlooked.
You can also try practicing the breathing exercise. It has helped me a lot to destress and relax the whole body. You can read more about this here.
Some people with chronic conditions experience pain they can’t overcome using a wellness routine alone. That’s okay. It simply means you need to utilize additional resources to get to feeling your best. If you notice that your joint and muscle pain are an ongoing problem, you should reach out to your doctor who you can get examined.
When to Reach Out to an Expert:
After taking your complete medical history, the expert can get to the root cause of your issue and devise a treatment plan that’s tailored specifically to you. Next, your doctor can work with you to help reduce the symptoms of pain so you can reclaim your quality of life. Finally, if your condition warrants surgery, your doctor can recommend an orthopedic surgeon to pick up where they left off. Surgery is always used as a last resort, but in some cases, it’s the best option.
So take control of your health, ask questions and work with your doctor or a wellness expert to get the best life you can.
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