Dealing with Ableism

I will admit that I haven’t had too many issues dealing with ableism. However, it’s an experience that everyone dealing with a chronic illness (visible or invisible) or a disability has had to deal with at some point. Emotions can range from moderate annoyance to incredibly frustrating depending on the situation. At work in the past I’ve been up front about my health, which also acted as a preventative measure against ableism. But ableism (like sexism, racism, ageism, and for forth) can happen anytime and anywhere. So how can we deal with it?

I wonder if Spike ever had this issue.

My recent experience actually happened at my apartment building. I was carrying three grocery bags and waiting for the one elevator in the building. Because of Covid it’s just one person in the elevator at a time (unless you live together) which totally makes sense. Now, I’m young and obviously my health issues are invisible, but also I was carrying three very full grocery bags and had walked ten minutes with them already. I live only two floors up so I do often take the stairs when I’m able. And the building is only four floors total. Well, this young guy comes in from outside, sees me waiting for the elevator and then says, “even if it weren’t Covid, I would take the stairs.” And then he proceeded to take the stairs. Now, there is a chance he wasn’t making a comment about me taking the elevator, but I certainly took it that way. I would say I was moderately annoyed, because again, even if I was totally okay I was holding groceries!

Abilities can sometimes change from day to day.

I feel like there are two approaches to take with this kind of scenario and it really depends on the specifics of the situation.

  1. I can let it go: This means realizing that while this guy should not have commented, he probably didn’t know any better. Does that make it okay? No, but sometimes there isn’t a chance to do #2. Part two of this answer is that I can regulate my emotions well enough to not be upset by one simple interaction. If I was running into this guy every day and he kept saying similar things, that might be different. I can choose to take this one incident to heart or not.
  2. It’s time to educate the other person: Again, this depends on the situation. Is there going to be enough time? Will the person be open to listening? Is the setting appropriate? And so on. However, I think this is an important thing to do when possible. “Sometimes people who look healthy have invisible illnesses or disabilities. How familiar are you with that?” I’m sure this is not the best worded example of what to say (feel free to comment better ones!) but you get the picture. Take back the power in a respectful way!

The truth is, any time of “-ism” will not disappear unless the community (both those directly effected and those not effected/allies) stand up to it!

Check this out!

I also, want to take a moment to let everyone know that I was recently a guest on a podcast called BeFun BeKind. Check out my appearance here, where I talk about self-acceptance. Until next week, keep making the most of it!

Daily Activities: Yoga

It’s no secret I’m a huge fan of yin yoga. I was introduced to it a few years ago but actually didn’t start regular practice until last spring. It has huge health and mental health benefits and has been used to treat symptoms of chronic pain, depression and anxiety. But don’t take my word (or the research I’ve done) for it (because you should always do your own research and consult your own healthcare professionals!) – try it out for yourself! I utilize YouTube for classes and my favourites are by SarahBeth Yoga because she has a variety of classes in different lengths and that target different parts of the body.

For more on the benefits of yin yoga and stretching, check out my podcast episode with Dr. Alex Triendl, “How Stress and Anxiety Manifest in the Body,” and my episode with Danielle Potvin, “Massage Therapy for Chronic Pain.”

https://chronicallyliving.buzzsprout.com/

Switching Up Routines

Hey Everyone! I decided to join this chronic illness blog linkup thing this month so I’m going to use their writing prompts for a few of my posts. Honestly, I think it can be helpful to use writing prompts from time to time. Not because I ever run out of topics to write about (I doubt that will ever happen) but because it causes me to think differently and even more critically. I decided to start with the topic of “switching” which can be anything that has switched up in our lives.

I recently left my retail job of the past 7 years. I was burnt out, had ongoing issues with a manager, anxiety about working with customers so closely during covid (so many anti-maskers and people just not understanding how to wear masks, and/or socially distance), and I wanted to concentrate on school. I am halfway through my third last course of my Master’s, and my Practicum Application Package is due November 1, so I basically have October to complete it (and trust me it’s huge). So, this means that I’ve had to switch a lot up in my life. But I view change as a good thing, and there are things about this change that can benefit my health.

Can you guess where I worked? Overall I really enjoyed my time there and think it’s a good company.

First of all, my mental health has already benefited because there is one less thing on my plate. And, like I said, it was something that was causing me a lot of stress. My physical health is also benefiting. My labral hip tear was always made worse by standing for 8+ hours straight every day (okay there was a half hour break in there I guess). Now I am able to “switch up” (like what I did there?) whether I’m sitting, standing, walking, stretching, exercising, laying down, as much as I want! My hip pain has already decreased tremendously which is awesome. I will still likely need surgery but I don’t feel as desperate for it at the moment. My health is also benefiting because I have more time to schedule in appointments. I’ve already talked to my chiropractor about more sessions, and I can fit in physio, massage therapy, acupuncture, and psychotherapy much more easily because my time is flexible.

My body rarely ever swells up! My poor finger (the swelling is gone btw, might have been a fluke).

My daily routine is switching up in other ways too. I have more time to focus on my side projects – like this blog, my podcasts (I have two), some other content and merch I want to create. Plus integrating school into the mix, and finding time for other things I love like playing the piano as well. My routine isn’t the same everyday, though there are similarities – like I wake up and exercise or do yoga first thing. Change is a part of life, it is inevitable. Whether change is good or bad we have to embrace it. Yes, for me this change has been good, but even when change is not good (like the loss of my sweet Spike), I know that it is what we do with the change – the free will and choices we have and make – is what is important. I could have just filled my free time playing video games and watching movies (not to say I won’t do any of that) but instead I choose to be productive and creative with this extra time.

I’m literally still so busy that I had to buy myself an actual weekly calendar that I can stare at all day at my desk.

How are you switching things up this month? What changes are you encountering and how are you dealing with them? I’d love to hear from you in the comments, or via DM on Instagram (@janeversuspain).

Stay safe everyone!

Daily Stretches: Lower Body

Stretching is important whether or not you are exercising. These are some of my favourite lower body stretches, which can be great if you have chronic pain or discomfort in your buttocks and legs. Remember to always consult a physiotherapist or chiropractor when possible. And only go as far as you can with stretches! Don’t hurt yourself!

Stretches in this video:

*lying glute stretch
*figure four
*quad stretch
*elevated standing toe touch
*standing toe touch/forward fold

Adventure Therapy/Nature Therapy

So, if you’ve read by blog in the past you’re probably quite aware that I do love the outdoors, particularly in the summer. Did you know that as well as the physical benefits of being outside (Vitamin D, exercise, and so on) there are some mental health benefits as well? Also, did you know that both adventure therapy and nature therapy are real things?

IMG_4716Bestie and I having a beach day.

I’ve followed an Adventure Therapist on Instagram for awhile but I didn’t know anything about it (other than that it sounded cool). This week in my course readings (my course is on multicultural counselling) I was reading about adventure and nature therapy. Sounds kind of weird for a multicultural counselling course, right? Not really, because a lot of the course is looking at different perspectives and cultural world views. Indigenous peoples often use nature as a part of healing. As my textbook points out, the modern world and technology is actually stress-inducing, so going into nature to “escape” can have psychological benefits (as well as spiritual ones). Many cultures believe that we are to be connected with nature, and to be quite honest, I completely agree with this view. Yes, I love the modern world and using my computer to write this and living in a big city. But I’m also excited to go visit my brother who lives in a much, much smaller city in the middle of the mountains. I like hiking and being outside by myself or with just one or two other people. It is an escape and it is relaxing.

IMG_7448Kayaking in nature (without leaving the city!)

What is adventure therapy? Adventure therapy utilizes the outdoors and experiences like hiking and trekking, to help being become more cooperative, less selfish, and more in tune with themselves. Nature therapy, is essentially the same, but includes spiritual elements and things like art therapy, drama, and eco-psychology. Some cool things can come out of it (assuming you have a good nature/adventure therapist). Your values may become clearer, your personal awareness should increase, your self-esteem can improve, and you should have a lot less stress. You’re also likely to become more present (mindfulness, yay!) and have clearer goals for the future. Even without a therapist, just allowing yourself to be in nature, be mindfulness and present while there, and believe in the healing powers of the earth, you’re likely to feel more grounded when you head back into society.

IMG_7673I always seem to be able to fit a hike in!

Let me know what you think about nature, adventure, the therapies of the earth, and being open to other perspectives, in the comments!

References:

France, M.H., Rodriguez, M. del C., & Hett, G.G. (Eds.). (2013). Diversity, culture and counseling: A Canadian perspective (2nd ed.). Calgary, AB: Brush Education.

Meditation Sundays: Visualization

As you know, I’m a big fan of mindfulness practices because they can help with everything from chronic pain to decreasing anxiety. Visualizations are a great way to practice mindfulness in a focused way. Today’s visualization is meant to be calming, however, visualizations can be done for other reasons as well. I’ve personally practiced them for chronic pain. It was a “how do you visualize your hand pain?” type of scenario. To which my response was a zombie hand. As those visualizations can be a lot more intense, I thought we’d start off a lot easier today.

If you love mindfulness or have some great meditations that you like to do, don’t forget to comment!

Exercise for Chronic Pain: Hiking Edition

Another video post for you, here at Rouge National Urban Park in Toronto.

Hiking is an amazing way to get some exercise, even when you have chronic pain, because it can be tailored to your health and skill level. I personally can do (and love to do) moderate hikes. Easier trails may be beneficial for you though. Plus, getting out in nature is amazing for your mental health!