The Positives Chronic Illness Has Taught Me

You often hear people say ‘Life doesn’t give you what you can’t handle’. Other people say you are sent things to try and toughen you, ready for future trials – that’s a scary thought. As Kelly Clarkson so eloquently put it ‘What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’, is probably the one I resonate with the most.

Chronic illness has taught me a lot in our eleven years of courtship. I can’t even begin to scratch the surface with everything it has taught me but I wanted to share a few things that come to mind; especially as, in my opinion chronic illness has made me into a far better person.

What has chronic illness taught me?

Stillness & Peace

Oftentimes, I look like a completely healthy and functional human being however there are a few people who have learnt to see through the mask I so often put on and I feel as though I have also learnt this skill. I have learnt to remain still and calm in the face of adversity. I have learnt to stop and observe my surroundings, to listen -to truly listen. Theres often no need for any input at all. People usually just need a friendly face and a listening ear for their woes.

Perspective

My life was going down a specific road but in retrospect I realise that I weren’t truly living. I learnt to live for the little things -the warmth of a first morning tea, the way the dogs get so excited greeting me in the morning, the first sign of spring and the feeling of the suns warmth on your skin. There are so many things that I absolutely love that my boyfriend and family find bizarre. In those moments I have to remind myself that they have their health which means the mundane things I so deeply appreciate aren’t so special for them.

Perseverance

Chronic illness is a brutal motherf*cker but whether it be at the will of a higher power or that little voice in your head telling you that you can do it, you find a way forward; through the weaker, darker moments. We fight on, often with great hardship. We find a way because we know our voices still matter and we can still contribute something to this world. We don’t sit and dwell on our sufferings. We either allow it to control us or learn from experience and find ways to try to control it; or at least live with it.

Strength

There is so many variations of pain that can be felt – emotional, physical, relationships, financial, mental, etc and its so hard, near enough impossible not to be shaken by such intense pain. Your life completely changes and with that brings so much pain; however a benefit, is you also come across this immense, iron-like strength. Physically I struggle every second of every day but my mentality and spirit feels Herculean.

Empathy & Compassion

When you have felt the depths of despair and felt so helpless, like you’re drowning in a dark abyss you’ll never navigate your way out of you can’t help but feel empathy for others who have also experienced something similar. With great adversity and discomfort comes an understanding that is often more authentic given your own trials. You learns ways to recognise and support others in a way that is genuine and warm.

Purpose

Before my illness, I was laser-focused on a set path which was incredibly different to how my life is now. Yes, no one ever thinks they will be ill but my purpose and identity has completely changed. I was constantly chasing a career, monetary goals, the perfect body, and so many other generic life goals. Now I live for moments of joy with my animals, family, and friends. Moments outside, feeling the sun on my skin and breathing fresh air.

Acceptance, Self-love and Self-care

I will always be gut-punched by the realisation that my life is not how I envisioned. It usually happens at milestones like birthdays, specials occasions like graduations, weddings, etc. From having a chronic illness and so much of my life being drastically changed, I realise many of my worries before were trivial. I face a whole other set of challenges which have helped me accept other elements of my life. I celebrate the small accomplishments I achieve in my daily life. I have learnt to look after myself and to accept defeat. To treat my body kindly when I don’t manage even the smallest of tasks. Being chronically ill has forced me to prioritise myself and my wellbeing in a way that I never would have had to before. So many of us get stuck in the rat-race and end up becoming burnt out. By practising some self-care and tending to our own needs, we become so much better at helping ourselves in the long run and others around us too.

I could write about chronic illness for so long but I won’t -I’ll refrain this time around. Today, the 12th May is M.E. awareness day which I why I felt so compelled to share this post today. So often I read posts about M.E. which are so great at educating people about it and other chronic illnesses but I didn’t want to go down that route. Instead, I wanted to share the positives that have come with my chronic health conditions. I will just say though, I will be spending this Sunday having my own dairy-free and gluten-free tea party for Blue Sunday, and if you don’t know what that is I highly recommend you head on over here and have a read of what it is and how it came to be.

Cheerio for now!

self-care

As time goes by, I am increasingly reminded of the importance of self-care. I think it is one of those things as a teenager you deem as a face mask or lay in on a Sunday morning, but as you get older the meaning changes. For me, self-care holds immense importance for a number of reasons. The main two being when I’m stressed or feeling drained. I think self-care is being pushed to the forefront of a lot of peoples minds these days. Living in such a fast-paced word can often become exhausting and it’s important to look after yourself in your everyday routine, but even more so when you are feeling run down.

I think the pandemic and how we were forced to slow down, brought up a lot of thoughts and feelings for everyone. Right at the beginning, you know that odd period of time where everyone was a bit stunned and didn’t quite know what to do with themselves, we were all forced to be still and naturally that caused a lot of discomfort for so many of us. Looking back, I definitely indulged in some serious self-care practises throughout that period and I think some of them have really stuck with me since so I thought I’d share them with you all today.

Here are just a few things that I like to do when I’m in need of a little care:

Get the zzz’s: In my opinion, there is nothing better than heading to bed early when you are in need of some extra TLC. It honestly is one of my little pleasures in life: doing my nighttime skin routine, turning my phone on silent and plugging it in the other side of the room and then sliding into bed at nine o’clock (yes, I’m worse than a grandma). But honestly, I can’t recommend this step enough. It is truly luxurious.

Put the Phone Away: Not just in the evenings, but even at weekends or on your day off. I find technology extremely draining when I’m feeling low. It’s like a huge black-hole sitting waiting to suck me in. Checking my emails, leads to replying to ten, checking instagram leads to hours of dog videos and all around its not okay for my self-care. It is also really disheartening when you see everyone living ‘their best lives‘ on instagram while you are going through a rough patch.

Have a Bath or Pamper: Whatever you prefer, bath or shower, indulge a little and give yourself a pamper. I like to stick on a podcast and slide into a warm bath.

Read a Book: Disconnect from everything around you and submerge yourself in a fictional world for a few hours. Fiction not for you? Pick up an autobiography you’ve been meaning to read or if books aren’t for you put on a podcast, audio book or maybe just some tunes on in the background. My point is, it’s nice to tune out for a few moments.

Be Around a Furry Friend: There is something incredibly soothing about being around animals. The love and joy they radiate is just contagious and you can’t help but feel lighter and carefree around them. As annoying as it is to have three dogs at every angle of me, nudging me while I try to cram in an extra chapter of my book: I have now come to see that as their signal to stop for the day. They usually nap while I work so them coming up and nudging me is almost their way of saying ‘it’s time to play’. And as any pet parent knows, it’s not just having them around that is soothing it is also the fact that you have to be in a routine and take them out. With my three dogs, I have to take those breaks to let them out in the garden or get them to the park. This responsibility makes me get fresh air and see daylight which has such a restorative effect on all of us.

Eat Well: Think of your body like a vehicle, if you don’t give it the fuel it needs it won’t work. Giving yourself some self-care does not include binging on crisps and chocolates as you rewatch friends and wait for your pizza to arrive. Believe me, you will feel much more nourished by preparing a healthy meal instead -plus cooking is therapeutic too!

Keep Your Living Space and Bedroom Tidy: You can’t truly take those moments for yourself when you are distracted by the clutter around you. I think your bedroom should be the main thing to focus on. You want it to be clean and tidy so that when it’s time to switch off, you can slide into those sheets without tripping over piles of washing or your mind making a list of everything you need to tidy up. Your living space, as a whole, should be your oasis. Somewhere you can turn off the business of the fast-paced life we lead.

Talk to friends: Taking the time to switch off and simply catch up with friends is such a lovely thing to do. Nothing quite beats taking time out to see your friends, chat for a few hours and have a few giggles too. This is especially true if you have a lot on your mind and want to unburden yourself or even get another persons perspective on a matter. It also helps to remind yourself that you are not alone.

So those are just a few of my self care ‘go-to’s’. I hope theres some helpful ideas here. What are yours?

Cheerio for now!

All About Juice Plus

Juice Plus Berry Capsules and Vanilla Shake Powder

Now we have all tried those fad diets, trying to shed the pounds for that beach body, your best friends wedding or to fit into that pretty dress for the Christmas parties. However often these diets are strict, unrealistic and while they may work as a quick fix, you find yourself gaining the weight back on and more. I’m guilty of all of the above and while I have tried many of the fad diets out there, there was one I had never heard about until just recently; enter Juice Plus.

Juice Plus doesn’t fall into the diet/fad diet category. While results from their products are often quick, it is by no means a quick fix but rather a lifestyle change. The mission behind these products focuses on getting all the nutrients the body needs, rather than simply shedding weight; and for this, they offer shake powder, capsules, bars, and boosters. The structure of Juice Plus works by having two shakes, two snacks, and one meal a day; though there is also various combos and plans to incorporate their bars, capsules, and boosters into your programme.

As previously mentioned, the products you can work into your programme aren’t just for weight loss or management but more so to bridge the gap between what you eat and what you should be eating in a day. The capsule, for instance, is a powerhouse full of 30 types of fruit, vegetables, and berries making it easy to get all the vitamins and antioxidants your body needs. Adults take two of the berry, fruit, and vegetable capsules a day, preferably at mealtime though some do empty the capsules into their shakes to make it easier to digest. Children can also take the capsules or, alternatively Juice Plus make chewable sweets for children.

Juice Plus Berry Blend Capsules

Although the shakes help lose or maintain weight, they also host a whole bunch of health benefits such as immune, skin health, cardiovascular health along with a ton of other benefits. They are also incredibly flexible as you can build up and use as much of the powder as you would like within your shakes; perfect for a good dose of protein before hitting the gym. The shakes are available in Vanilla and Chocolate flavours, and when added to plant-based milk such as almond or coconut milk are vegetarian and vegan-friendly. They are also gluten free, and free from preservatives, sweeteners, colours, and flavourings. 

The bars Juice Plus offer, just like the shakes, are perfect for on-the-go snacks or easy options for when you would ordinarily reach for a quick fast food option whilst out and about. The bars come in both mixed fruit and chocolate flavours, and both are gluten free. 

While the shakes, capsules, and bars are all great products to structure a healthy lifestyle around Juice Plus also places huge importance on still eating healthy foods in your daily routine. They do provide a list of foods you should incorporate into your meals and snacks, though rather than this list restricting what you can eat, it instead includes everyday foods that are sustainable in reaching the results you want but also keeping your body healthy and well nourished in the process. 

Want to read more about Juice Plus? 
click here, for their official site or check out their YouTube channel here. You can also check out the Juice Plus products here
 
Cheerio for now!