Video: Why Are You Using So Many Bandaids for Your Pain?

We all use “bandaids” in the forms of distraction and avoidance of our difficult thoughts and feelings (emotional and physical) and we often wonder why it only works as a short-term solution and never fixes anything. Then we get frustrated and keep using them, using all that precious warrior energy… is there a better way?

I hope this helps you to keep making the most of it!

How to Engage in Micro Self-Care

Last week I wrote about macro self-care – doing something “big” for yourself as a way to recharge. These things are important, but also a little harder to do, especially for Spoonies/Warriors. The other side of macro self-care is micro self-care. These are little moments you can spread throughout your day in order to get that oh-so-important self-care in. Micro self-care can take as little as a few seconds, up to several minutes. Not only is micro self-care easier (and less expensive) to engage in, it can be done on various energy levels (so important for anyone with chronic pain and illness, as you all know) and it has more benefits than macro because of the frequency of it.

Spending even 5 minutes outside is a great self-care practice.

If you Google “micro self-care” you will literally see hundreds of different ideas for what you can do. Here are a few of my favourites:

  1. Meditation or deep breathing (or grounding, and so on). You don’t need to sit and meditation for 20+ minutes. In fact to start it’s actually better to just do 3-5 minutes. And it’s something you can find time to do at any point in your day.
  2. Gratitude Practice – say out loud or write down 3-5 things you’re grateful for (it’s been shown to boost happiness)
  3. Journal – you don’t have to write down every thought or everything that’s happened. When I journal I often reflect on something specific (i.e., use a prompt) or look at my physical, intellectual, spiritual and/or emotional bodies and see if there’s anything to reflect on, limiting beliefs I can forgive myself for and/or something I’d like to work on today.
  4. Stretch – stretching is something most of us can do more of as it’s really good for our bodies. Take a few minutes to do a few stretches is a great way to care for your body.
  5. Do some sort of quick exercise – walk around the block (my favourite) or even just marching in place or do 5 minutes of some sort of strengths-based chair workout.
  6. Read – set a timer for 5 minutes and read (or just read a poem, or a set a page goal for a book – 5-10 pages for example).
  7. Go outside – even if it’s chilly out, spending a few minutes just being out in the fresh air is great for our bodies and minds.
  8. Drinks a glass of water or tea – we often under hydrate so water is always the best option. Alternatively I always feel good drinking some of my favourite tea.
  9. Make your bed – this seems silly and simple and yet I (who often doesn’t make my bed) feel so good when I make it (and also feel better when I get into a made bed at night… actually I’m going to make my bed now).
  10. Make plans with a friend – this doesn’t mean you actually have to go out with this friend at this moment but even just making the plans via text or phone call can make us feel good and give us something to look forward to.

These are just some ideas to get you started with micro self-care. There are many more that I do. Some of these daily, many of these within a day, and some of these less often. I know that the more I do, the better I feel (mentally and physically). What are your favourite micro self-care practices?

Keep making the most of it everyone!

How to Practice Deep Breathing for Chronic Pain

I recently wrote a post on my meditation teaching blog about deep breathing and how to do so in a way that will stimulate the vagus nerve. This is really important for chronic pain as well. The Vagus Nerve, and specifically deep breathing to affect it, activates the parasympathetic nervous system, putting us in “rest and digest” mode. This often leads to a decrease in sensations of pain. (And if you also have anxiety, this may mean a decrease in both anxiety and pain for you). Check out the blog post here.

I’ll be back from vacation with some new posts next week! Keep making the most of it!

What to Know About Hugs, Chronic Illness and Mental Health

On my professional blog I wrote about how hugs can benefit mental health, and basically, why we can always use more hugs. (If you don’t like being hugged, self-hugs also totally count, as do cuddles with pets). There are a lot of physical health benefits I outline in the post as well, including decrease in blood pressure, improved heart health and decreased pain.

Check out the post here.

I’m just on vacation right, but I promise I’ll be back with some new posts soon! Until then, keep making the most of it!

Video: Values-Based Living – Halloween Fun!

Enjoy Halloween but don’t have a lot of Spoons this year? That’s okay, because this week I’m taking us through how to have a fun Halloween regardless of how much energy you have (and of course, I’m also talking about pacing!). Hope this helps you to keep making the most of it!

Video: Daily Mindfulness – Compassion with Equanimity

Added from the work of Kristin Neff.

This practice is particularly good for anyone finding themselves in a caregiving role. This may be as a healthcare practitioner, doctor, nurse, or as someone taking care of an elderly parent, a partner or child who is chronically ill, or really any other caregiving role. Sometimes the best thing we can do is offer compassion to another, while also taking care of ourselves.

Keep making the most of it!

Video: Values-Based Activities – Gardening

Another values-based activity that can be done with low energy is gardening. I’ll admit I have never really been into gardening but after keeping my flower alive (and I mean, also bringing it back to life during the heat waves this summer), I’m inspired to have more of a garden going forward.

Let’s keep making the most of it!

Video: Daily Mindfulness – Your 100th Birthday

This short guided meditation can be a useful way to help clarify your values. Having chronic pain and illness sometimes interferes with us living by our values, or even remembering what they are. I find it useful to re-clarify what they are for me so that I can keep making the most of it, and I hope you can too!

Also, I just launched a side-business as a meditation teacher. If you’re interested in 1:1 classes online and self-paced programs online, check out my website – Aligning Mindfully. I also started a second YouTube channel for Aligning Mindfully with 5 minute meditations on it.

Video: Daily Activities – Journaling

Journaling has a number of benefits for health and mental health. Though I only started it recently (due to yoga teacher training), I’ve found I enjoy it more than I thought and it has been beneficial.

Here are some articles on the benefits of journaling:

https://journals.lww.com/psychosomaticmedicine/Abstract/2016/07000/Pilot_Randomized_Study_of_a_Gratitude_Journaling.5.aspx https://meridian.allenpress.com/jmhc/article-abstract/36/1/31/83462/Interactive-Journaling-as-a-Clinical-Tool https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/15401383.2011.557312

Take care and keep making the most of it!

Video: How to Find Your Values Based Activities Part 4

If you’re anything like me you’ll run into some barriers when actually trying to complete these activities, even though they make your life good and you probably realize it. Barriers are normal and natural. Let’s talk about 4 common ones and how to overcome them.

I hope this helps you on your way to more values based activities so that you can keep making the most of it!

Information in this video is for psychoeducational purposes only and does not constitute mental health or physical health advice. Please consult with a mental health or healthcare professional in your area.