“Pushing ourselves to do too much despite the pain will not result in gain but may cause additional injury. However, sometimes we do need to push ourselves to get up and move around to avoid becoming stiff and actually increasing our pain.”
― Karen Lee Richards
I was diagnosed with lupus in my early twenties. Lupus is an autoimmune disease that causes the immune system to attack the body’s organs. In severe cases, organ damage and failure can occur and can even lead to death. But today, with careful treatment, 80 percent of people with lupus can expect to live a normal lifespan.
Many studies have suggested that lupus can flare during times of stress. I have known this all along, but I never paid much importance to it. Flares are the sudden and severe onset of symptoms which can include redness, heat, pain, or swelling
“Other common symptoms that indicate a flare include ongoing fever not due to an infection, painful or swollen joints, extreme fatigue, rashes or sores or ulcers in the mouth or nose.”
The decade following my diagnosis was a tough one. I had occasional agonizing flares, I had two miscarriages one in 8th month and one in fifth, the most dreaded circumstances for a mother, I had a stroke and Avascular necrosis which led to a hip replacement until I finally decided to listen to my body.
Trying to pour from an empty cup
For long I had ignored myself and silenced my intuition, but it was still there. Being married and then becoming a mother at a young age I had this instinct of putting other people's needs before my own.
Approval from others was more important to me than self-acceptance. I had learned to tune out my needs to please others. But little did I know, I was doing no good to myself or the people who cared for me.
When you take time to replenish your spirit, it allows you to serve others from the overflow. You cannot serve from an empty vessel.”
— Eleanor Brown.
Following my body’s Cues
I simply started to follow my body’s cues for needing rest. If I had a stressful day, I took a nap during the middle of the day, and I didn’t feel guilty about it. By listening to my body, I noticed that I felt better and had more positive energy.
The moment I felt stressed out mentally or physically, I took a pause and started to do something about it. With time, I realized a decrease in my flares.
Giving myself time to unwind reduced my stress, improved my mood, and increased alertness, mental clarity, and creativity. All of these changes led to further improve my productivity and quality of life.
I just realized that listening to my body and responding to its needs was the best approach for my self and my family.
Introducing me time
“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.”
— Sharon Salzberg
What is me-time? A period when someone relaxes by doing something that they enjoy. Needing alone time is totally natural but for me, it required some work to take the guilt out of it.
Every day I took some time out for myself and did something I enjoyed, I read a book or wrote an article or simply watched “Everybody Loves Raymond”.
Taking a little time for myself-refreshed and re-energized me. It allowed me to think more clearly and make better decisions. Taking “me” time also built my self-esteem over time, and I realized that it is okay to simply enjoy the time out. It is the best thing I did for myself and everyone around me.
Listening to my body's emotional needs
Listening to our emotions is vital. Emotions “seek to serve and empower us to explore the world safely and make meaning of our experience in it,” said Deb Hannaford, a licensed marriage and family therapist in Pasadena and Monrovia, Calif. Emotions are valuable sources of information. “They give us direction and help us know what we need.”
I wasn’t familiar with the art of listening to my emotions, instead I always pushed them aside. The process of listening to my emotional needs led me to accept when I needed help.
I started expressing myself by either talking to the people close to me or by writing, and this helped me a great deal.
Taking care of my dietary needs
I am a food lover, but only recently I found out the importance of listening to my body for its dietary needs.
Learning to listen to your body’s reactions to food can do much more than just help you lose weight. Research suggests that mindful eating can help decline negative emotions and generate a healthier relationship with food.
I noticed that certain foods always made me lethargic while some food energized me. Stress made me eat unhealthy food which later led to the worst consequences.
I also realized that for my medicines to work properly I had to keep my diet somewhat constant, increasing greens in my diet led to changes in my INR due to the medicines I was taking.
The international normalized ratio (INR) is a laboratory measurement of how long it takes blood to form a clot. It is used to determine the effects of oral anticoagulants on the clotting system.
so I had to eat a balanced diet specific to my health condition.
“Your body is your best guide. It constantly tells you, in the form of pain or sensations, what’s working for you and what’s not.”
― Hina Hashmi
I spent time understanding my body needs and I worked out the best solutions for my self.
I hope my journey of listening to my body helps you start yours.
Sumera Rizwan is a Mother and a Computer Science Graduate. She lives in Derby UK. She is passionate about expressing herself through her stories. She talks from her heart and aims to touch the hearts of her readers.