Self-care for Sensitive Souls
Reconnect with your inner resources
There’s still some summer left (now and then) … but are you finding it hard to get out and enjoy it?
When we’re in pain, it’s not very tempting to go out and about. We want to hunker down and take care of ourselves.
And if it’s just a day indoors here and there, it’s no big problem.
But over time, the snags with staying in can start to build up. So is it worth the effort to take a spell outside our four walls?
We all know the depressing effect on our mood of being stuck inside at home for too long.
But our health can suffer in another way, that may affect the level of pain we experience.
Blame it on the sunshine
We know that if we stay indoors for extended periods, we can lose out on the essential vitamin D that our bodies make through exposure to the ultraviolet B rays in sunlight.
But this may have more to do with chronic pain than we think.
Recent research has shown a link between a deficiency of vitamin D in the body and the presence of chronic muscle and joint pain that can’t be explained by injury or overuse.
And an American study in 2008 found that around a third of people with chronic migraines have Vitamin D deficiency.
(Perhaps this latter one is something of a chicken-and-egg problem, given that many people with migraine have light sensitivity – whether constant or only during an attack – and so avoid bright sunshine. But even on cloudy days, our body can still produce Vitamin D from sunlight.)
The Department of Health say that a matter of minutes outside in the middle of the day (less than the time it takes for skin to redden and burn) is enough.
It’s lovely out!
So, let’s suppose the sun’s shining, there’s a soft breeze, and glory of glories, you’re having a good day.
Assuming you’re not going to stay indoors and do the laundry (you’re not, are you?), you could …
… dig out the secateurs and have a gentle little clip around the garden until it’s time to go in for a tall, cool drink
… pick up your laptop, wander down to a café within easy reach, and have a relaxed go at that presentation that’s getting a bit close
… call a friend and go for a walk round the block and a good old catch-up
Yes, but …
Of course, you have to find that elusive (and ever-changing) line between having a fun, satisfying time, and wearing yourself out so you feel worse afterwards.
You won’t always get it right. But the more you can trust your own inner expert, the better you’ll get at finding that sweet zone that does you so much good.
So what’s this really about, at a deeper level?
There comes a point where we experience greater pain and discomfort by staying as we are, than by making small adjustments in our life to feel better in the long run.
We can't know how long it will take to feel better, but our readiness to make a start provides the springboard for healing to begin.
Even though the process of continuously monitoring and tweaking what’s working takes a lot of effort in itself, many people who have chronic pain report that it’s worth it.
It helps to take you beyond simply managing your condition, and towards having a quality of life that’s as full and rich as you can make it.
The key is to keep going. Don’t give up. Healing isn’t a pass/fail experience, it’s a zig-zag process where we get to know ourselves more profoundly as we go along.
And getting sunkissed is an uplifting way to start. So go for it, get out there while he’s still got his hat on.
Want those vitamin D references? Get more info here:
Vazquez, A. The Clinical Importance of Vitamin D Alt Ther. Sept 2004 Vol. 10, No. 5.
Thanks to Fergal Carr at Flickr for the image