A key feature of this illness is that we all have bad days: days when our energy is even lower than normal or days when the illness just gets us down. We might be able to learn illness management skills that stabilise our energy levels somewhat and we might be able to learn new ways of being happy that don’t involve lots of energy but we’re never going to be able to avoid the bad days completely.
When I have a day like this I first accept it. Resisting only uses more energy or adds to the emotional tension. I acknowledge my feelings, allow them to be what they are and treat my suffering with kindness and compassion. And then I try to make the most of my day whilst waiting for it all to pass, (because I know that it will in time).
For these kinds of days I have a repertoire of low energy restful indulgences: things that are comforting and enjoyable that I save up to make a bad day better. These are not things that are part of my normal coping range but things that I save for a rainy day.
There have been discussions both on twitter and in a lovely facebook group I’m a member of ‘The lighter side of ME’ about low energy activities this week and there’s been some great ideas flying around. Whilst building your repertoire of enjoyable low energy activities I would suggest that you write two lists: One for things that can improve your quality of life on a daily basis and another for really easy things that you can save up to comfort you on a bad day.
For example, meditation is a part of my every day coping, but I have a guided relaxation and a yoga nidra that I listen to on bad days (or when I’m having difficulties sleeping). I try and record a lot of easy going TV to have something to watch whenever I’m tired, but I also try to save the most enjoyable easy stuff for my bad days, whether that’s a fun film or the indulgence of allowing myself two watch a couple of episodes of my favourite programmes back to back. Nature programmes can be great too! Many of the things that I watch on my bad days are things that I’ve had to learn to enjoy. In the past, enjoyable entertainment would have meant something intellectually stimulating but now I have learned that I can choose to enjoy things on a much simpler level. I know for some people even light-hearted TV could be too much on a bad day, it’s all about creating a list of things that is appropriate to you and perhaps choosing to enjoy things that you might never have considered enjoyment before this illness.
Another thing I do to cheer myself up on a bad day is burn uplifting essential oils. I burn health promoting essential oils every morning and sometimes use sleep promoting oils in the evening, but I save the comforting and uplifting ones for my bad days. I also try and keep some of my favourite meals in the freezer for my bad days. It’s comforting knowing that, not only can I eat something I enjoy but that I don’t evening have to prepare it! A bath instead of a shower is also a ‘rainy day’ indulgence for me.
What treats and indulgences can you save for a rainy day? I’d love to get your comments as they might give other people some great ideas too!