The Power of Words

I know most of us are probably familiar with the phrase, “the pen is mightier than the sword,” and I definitely think that is true. Not just because I’m a writer (I love to write everything – this blog, self-help books, fiction novels and short stories, poetry, screenplays/teleplays) but because there is research that shows that writing (and very specifically journaling) is good not only for our mental health, but our physical health as well. This is one reason Chronic Illness Warriors might want to jump on the journaling bandwagon.

Apparently I’ve always been a writer.

So the whole reason I wanted to write about this is because I was re-reading a textbook for my practicum (basic counselling skills, etc) and one of the interesting things that I read was that a researcher named Pennebaker found that people who record “troubling experiences in diaries showed better immune system responses and significantly better health than those who did not.” Now, I’m not saying I think that any kind of writing is going to suddenly magically cure any of us and we’ll just feel 100% better by doing so. The research though is super interesting. I think that most people can acknowledge the mental health is helped by sharing our story – through therapy, support groups, and writing/journaling. I personally find it just good for my mental health to do any kind of writing, including creative writing, whether or not it directly has to do with my struggles (let’s face it, every writer has a character who is more like them). It can feel good to journal because it can allow you to process, be reflective, and just get something off your chest, and it’s particularly effective if you are struggling with your mental health on top of your physical health.

This kind of journaling has many benefits including self-compassion.

In terms of physical health, researchers have found journaling to help with viral infections such as Hepatitis (so yes, potentially even Covid-19 as well). There was also a study that looked at gratitude journaling by those with heart failure, and found that morbidity was decreased and inflammation was reduced in the majority of patients. Now obviously more research always needs to be done but it is an interesting and promising start. How exactly does it all work? Well, that’s not 100% clear but journaling can lessen overall stress (for those reasons I stated for mental health) and stress and immune functioning are related, so it kind of makes sense that like some other mindfulness activities, journaling (or perhaps other forms of writing) can be helpful. I’m all about the “even if I just feel better today” (or for a few hours) attitude. Why not help ourselves in the present moment? All we really have is this moment, because the next one doesn’t exist yet, and the last one has passed. In this moment, if journaling helps me feel better and potentially helps my body and mind function better, than maybe that’s a good reason to make today the day you start a journal.

I think this tattoo of mine really sums up how important I think writing is (because why else would I have tattooed it on my body!)

Have a good week and keep on making the most of it!

Setting Work Boundaries

When it comes to work, a lot of people have difficulties setting boundaries. For those of us with a chronic illness, it becomes a difficult but necessary part of literally being able to work. Why am I bringing this up today? I have been off of work for the past week because of my hip tear, which seemingly go worse when I (a) accidentally leaned against it at work, and (b) my hip popped out of and back into place when I was doing an elevated pushup. Now I’m set to go back tomorrow but I will probably need some accommodations, because, despite the fact that I felt worse on Monday and now better today, I do a lot to mitigate the pain. The other part of this equation is that work has been so stressful since we fully reopened (limited customers) at the end of May, and I haven’t been able to set boundaries around that, I’ve become more anxious and had a general increase in body pain anyway. Now’s the time to make a change.

61747309117__526F5848-9878-43E7-8344-671D5793945CEven on the beach I had to change positions a million times.

So how do you set work boundaries? I mean, no boss or company wants to have to accommodate for an employee, right? Yet as much as I hate asking, I have seen some managers do it for others, and have had some managers do it for me. Plus, legally in Canada and some other countries, employers can’t discriminate because of (dis)ability. In the past I’ve always approached it with a very direct attitude. This is what I need, this is why I need it, and without it I can’t do my job properly. Direct works best. And when in doubt I have a doctor’s note as well (I currently have a few doctor’s notes in my file with no “expiry” date to them). Plus, I always tell my bosses that I will be flexible when needed (and I have been) because I understand the importance of the business (I work in electronics retail so it’s importance really depends on your own value to it).

32946222992_20a36e2abe_bImage from: https://www.flickr.com/photos/moodlegal/32946222992/

What’s the difference now? Covid-19. As I’ve mentioned, we aren’t through it yet. At my work, we still have 18 staff members not back yet, we let limited customers in the store which is still too many at a time at times, and things are definitely not running as “normal.” What I currently need because of my hip: to be able to change physical positions as needed – sitting, sitting with my legs up, standing, walking, lying down. What I need because of stress: to not be the only person scheduled at customer service where I get long lines and yelled at by customers all day. Here’s the thing, I am scheduled alone at customer service for the next 3 days. The only other person scheduled for my entire department is collecting web orders, so literally nothing to do with directly dealing with customers. Therefore, I can’t just leave my post to change what position I’m in. I will stand for 9 hours with just my 30 minute break. Bad for hip and bad for stress. Do I need to say something? Yes. How will it go? I guess we’ll find out.

IMG_7761Being in nature is helpful for stress. Take a time out every know and then in order to heal.

I’m curious if any of my fellow Spoonies have been back to a work environment yet and what they are doing for boundary setting. This is a time where I wish I could work from home, but wishing isn’t going to make that happen at the moment. Please comment or DM me on Instagram and share your work boundary stories. Stay Safe.