When was the last time scheduled a rest day? I am not talking about spending the day in bed because your chronic illness flared and made leaving it impossible. What I am asking is, when did you last choose a day to relax, give your body a break, and allow yourself to chill out in front of the television for no reason other than you wanted to?
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I don’t need a rest day
The problem with having multiple chronic illnesses is that a lot of our downtime is dictated by chronic pain. Fibromyalgia, psoriatic arthritis, and endometriosis dictate when I am active or when I can leave the house.
There are times when they make me feel like I have no control over the time in between.
It was like all eyes were on me, and unless I was completely unable to leave my bed, I would be judged for not pushing myself to catch up on everything that I had fallen behind on.
The bad part about that way of thinking was that I wasn’t showing any love or consideration for myself. My life became a full-time punishment. If I was in bed, I was being punished for being chronically ill.
If I was able to get out of bed, I was punished for the time when I couldn’t get out. Over time I became bitter towards not only my family but friends, acquaintances, and pretty much anybody who was alive.
Change of mind
After a decade of punishing myself, it became clear that I needed to give myself permission to take a day “off.” To do whatever I wanted, even if that meant doing nothing but binge-shows on Netflix or Hulu all day. I had to love myself enough to not feel like everything I did was a punishment.
A day of planned rest may not always rejuvenate me physically, but it sure does wonders for my mental state. Rest days allow me to clear my head, breathe, and remember that I will be of no use if I continue to run myself into the ground.
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A funny thing happened after I began allowing myself to enjoy life. I fell in love with living again. I will always be chronically ill. Yes, my chronic pain has been well managed for the past two years and continues to be, but there are no guarantees that this will always be the case.
I don’t know what the future holds. What I do know is that no matter what my chronic diseases decide to throw my way, no matter what new illnesses or injuries I accrue, I will never punish myself or my body the way that I did before.
I love myself enough to schedule rest days.
Update March 30, 2023: The original post was published in January 2019. A year after this post, my endometriosis pain became worse than ever. Which triggered an increase in psoriatic arthritis pain. But I still keep plugging along, just at a different pace. Having less active time now requires allowing myself to enjoy the downtime my illnesses create instead of harboring anger and resentment.