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When is the last time that you rested?
I am not talking about spending the day in bed because of 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, allow yourself to chill out in front of the television for no reason other than you wanted to?
But I don’t want to rest
The problem with having multiple chronic illnesses is that until I got my pain under control two years ago, all my downtime was dictated by chronic pain. Between 2001 and 2017, fibromyalgia, psoriatic arthritis, psoriasis, endometriosis, degenerative disc disease, and coccydynia decided when I would be active or when I was able to leave the house or bed.
I felt like I had no control of the time in between.
I felt like all eyes were on me and that 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 fulltime punishment. If I was in bed, I was being punished by my chronic illnesses.
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.
My life completely changed in 2013. With my doctors unwilling to help me manage my chronic pain, I had to look elsewhere. At the time I couldn’t see it, but it was actually a blessing in disguise as the route I chose was a natural and alternative one that really did change my life.
But the changes in my life were more than medicinal, I also began implementing many changes to how I lived and my attitude towards my body and chronic illnesses.
Change of mind
One important change was to give myself permission to take a day “off” from life. 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 wonder for my mental state. Rest days allow me to clear my head, to breathe, to remember that I will be of no use if I continue to run myself into the ground.
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 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.