The new ChronicBabe Blog Carnival theme is favorite self-care tools and techniques, and will go live on Tuesday June 1.
I love this topic . . . self-care is a very important part of managing a chronic illness, and we all deserve to take good care of ourselves. I use a lot of non-medication methods to manage the symptoms of my multiple chronic illnesses (the short list is fibromyalgia and bipolar disorder, but if you’re really interested in the entire list, check my “Who Am I” page,) and I love sharing them with anyone they might help. I use a lot of aromatherapy and herbal teas for symptom control; and stress reduction techniques to minimize flares, anxiety, and bipolar cycling; so let’s get started.
Stress Reduction and Relaxation Techniques:
High stress levels and tension make pain levels worse and trigger bipolar episodes, so stress reduction and relaxation techniques are an important part of my health management program. In addition, they can make it much harder to get a decent night’s sleep, and lack of sleep is another trigger for flares and episodes.
- The BEST stress management tool I’ve found is meditation. A lot of the people I talk to say something like, “oh, I can’t meditate, I can’t stop thinking about stuff.” That’s okay. If you can’t do traditional meditation because you can’t make your mind go blank, use a guided meditation CD or mp3. Depending on what I’m working on, I’ll use ones for positive thinking, relaxation, releasing guilt, faith, or health. There are literally thousands of guided meditations available, and some websites offer free sample downloads for you to try. Sometimes it relaxes me so much that I actually fall asleep, so I will frequently use meditation if I’m having problems dozing off and my tea hasn’t worked.
- I like breathing exercises for relaxation, because I can do those anywhere when the stress levels start climbing. I’ve done them at work after dealing with a difficult customer or co-worker, on the bus, at my computer, I’ve even used them in the middle of an argument to calm myself.
- I also use progressive relaxation techniques on a regular basis, but these can only be used when I don’t need to be alert. This is another good way to get to sleep and deal with anxiety.
- Epsom salt baths are my absolute favorite self-care technique. The magnesium in epsom salt can be absorbed through the skin, and since many fibromyalgia patients have low magnesium levels, this is a simple way to give yourself a boost. In addition, baths can also be used in conjunction with aromatherapy or herbs to reduce pain, muscle tension, anxiety, and stress.
I use a lot of essential oils for various symptoms, and have found that they work well for me, although I’ve had to do a good bit of research and experimentation to find out what works without making things worse. (For example: I have multiple allergies and asthma; and some oils and delivery methods can cause an allergic reaction or asthma attack.)
CAUTION: Most essential oils should never be applied to the skin without being diluted, since they can cause burns. If you accidentally get some on you, use olive oil or a similar organic oil to reduce the burning and see a doctor or holistic practitioner as soon as possible. NEVER use an oil derived from a plant you know you’re allergic to.
I use a lot of lavender oil for relaxation and pain control, as well as for first aid. I use it with my epsom salt baths in a sugar scrub blend for exfoliating (and as a bonus, it helps me relax and reduces pain levels.) I also use it for headaches (both tension and migraine,) sinus congestion, minor injuries, insect repellent, and tons of other stuff as well.
Rosemary is another favorite that I include in the sugar scrub. It helps with pain control, and is also a bit of a stimulant that can help when the the fibro fog is particularly bad (for clearing my mind a bit, I simply open the bottle and sniff it a few times, or use a diffuser.)
I’ve made blends of various oils to use as “pain rubs” and for many other purposes, and although they aren’t a cure, they do help me feel better.
Herbs are not just for cooking in my house. I use them for more than I could possibly include in one post, but here’s the short list:
- Pain control
- First Aid
- digestive upsets
- Mental Focus and
Some of the herbs I use most frequently are catnip; ginger; cinnamon; nutmeg; calendula; chamomile (be very careful with chamomile if you’re allergic to ragweed, they’re related plants, and you could have a reaction;) skullcap; black cohosh; feverfew; and saw palmetto. I use them as teas; infused in plant oils like olive, walnut, sesame, etc.; and in capsules; as well as adding the better tasting ones to my cooking.
I am not a doctor. This article is not intended to be and should not be interpreted as a recommendation for a specific treatment plan, product, or course of action. I DO NOT OFFER MEDICAL ADVICE, NOR DO I CLAIM TO HAVE FOUND A “CURE” FOR ANY ILLNESS, AND NOTHING CONTAINED IN THE CONTENT IS INTENDED TO CONSTITUTE PROFESSIONAL ADVICE FOR MEDICAL DIAGNOSIS OR TREATMENT. My opinion should not replace medical consultations with a qualified health or medical professional and you should ALWAYS consult with a qualified professional before trying anything new. Herbs, supplements and essential oils CAN interact with each other AND WITH PRESCRIPTION MEDICATIONS, as well as having their own possible side effects, and you should never use them without doing the appropriate research. I disclaim all responsibility for the professional qualifications and licensing of, and services provided by, any physician or other health provider referred to on this Site and/or any other site I link to. Never disregard the medical advice of a physician or health professional, or delay in seeking such advice, because of something you read here. Although I try to ensure that the information I provide on this Site is correct, I cannot guarantee that it is always accurate and up-to-date. I offer this Site “AS IS” and without any warranties.
Related articles by Zemanta
- Aromatherapy: Information and Benefits (spa-treatments.suite101.com)
- Natural Pampering (beauty-treatments.suite101.com)