The Road to Recovery, Part 3
Recovery from any major illness, injury or depression is like climbing your own personal Mount Everest. It seems impossible, you can't see more than a few feet in front of you and it is lonely.
Below is the list of 10 and then a brief description of why each matters:
1. Eat an inflammation-free diet
2. Create a social circle
3. Be in the moment
4. Develop structure/routine
6. Accountability partner (non-family)
7. Read/watch positive media/literature/affirmations
9. Body movement
10. Support group
Remember: the sicker you are then the stricter you must follow this. Consider it your job. Once you are on the road to recovery you will be much more physically, mentally and emotionally resilient. You'll be able to make leaps and bounds in your health and healing. But for those who are barely crawling, this is where you start.
Part 3 finishes with the last 2 on the list:
9. Body movement
Holistic healing means you connect the whole body - mind, body, spirit. One of the reasons we often become sick in the first place is because we are in a state of denial. We are working a job we hate, staying in a bad relationship, eating toxic food, ignoring our body screaming at us that something hurts...in order to get well we have to start listening.
In order to listen you have make friends with your body and develop a body awareness.
A great way to do this is through movement. We need movement to keep this machinery working or to nudge it toward healing. If we stay in stasis we stagnate.
Notice I said movement and not exercise. You might be too sick or tired to begin exercising - so start with body awareness.
Some of my favorite practices are Yin Yoga or a gentle martial art such Tai Chi. You can stretch, do guided meditation, progressive muscle relaxation or simply go for a walk.
If you are struggling with depression/low mood, you may also need to add more of a cardio workout in addition to help stimulate natural endorphin release. You can get this without a lot of effort by doing HIIT or burst training a few times a week.
If that is not possible due to injury, consider a water aerobics class, swimming or hot yoga class. When you are depressed and not feeling motivated, it can help to be part of a class and guided through the process.
Note: Get a dog that you will have to take on walks around the block, plus the love from a puppy is a great asset in the healing process!
10. Support group
A support group of individuals mucking through the same mud can be invaluable, especially in the worst part of your illness. It helps to talk to people who truly understand what you are going through, won't judge you and don't mind you complaining about your illness...again.
It is also good to see the variety of people dealing with problems similar to yours so you can see you aren't alone. It can also help to put your problems in perspective and maybe develop a new attitude about what it is your dealing with.
People in support groups will often be able to handle hearing about your pain, share your tears and laugh with you at jokes about your health that outsiders might think is inappropriate-LOL.
Please note that one support group might not meet all your needs and you can outgrow support groups. An example would be someone who benefited from a depression support group while in the throes of the illness, but later found the group too depressing once they were healing and looking for a more uplifting environment.
Support groups can be found for specific medical conditions, grieving/loss, depression/anxiety, 12-step groups, social groups, business, senior groups, etc.
Again, don't get wrapped up in dogma. Take what you want and leave the rest.
11. Create something to give back
What? There's only supposed to be 10! Well...the Top 10 are essential to get you on the road to recovery and as you are traveling that path - number 11 opens up in your life and becomes the jet fuel in your recovery rocket.
When you are sick and miserable you often have absolutely nothing to give and it feels like you never will again.
But, once you start implementing these Top 10 and shifting your health, then it becomes essential to once again develop a purpose.
Now, maybe you'll find a new purpose for life and a way to save the world - by why be so lofty? There's much to benefit just by finding your purpose for the next week.
What's important is that you find a creative outlet. A way to build, create, imagine, write, volunteer or do something that will benefit another. This is absolutely essential in your healing process and when you get to this point you will know that you are well on your way - you have made real progress!
Some of you may heal completely, some may not get complete remission in their suffering and others may have to learn to live with a chronic illness. The body is remarkable in it's ability to heal and I believe in encouraging that possibility to its absolute maximum.
Wherever you fall on the recovery spectrum you are going to want to continue to practice self-care AND you are going to want to practice #11.
It can be a blog, knitting hats for the homeless, babysitting, starting a business, volunteering, sharing your story, being a good friend and great listener. Whatever it is - it gets you out of your head and attentive to others. Creating is also a very positive and affirming activity that promotes healing.
It can be one big thing or a series of small things. Everyone needs to be contributing, to be giving back, to have a purpose.
You may be miserable right now, you may feel like you have nothing to offer, you may feel like you will never be better and are a waste of space - but it's not true.
You may not believe anything I have said but know this - things will change. They always do.
I hope the next big change in your life is you stepping up on the road to recovery. I wish you much love in your healing journey!
Serving Hands-On Healing,
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