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Physical self care with Chronic Health Conditions

by Suzy Jacobson June 29, 2018

Physical self care with Chronic Health Conditions

When you don't have 100% physical ability it is easy to let your health slide even further because you can be too fatigued.

So I have compiled a list of a few of the things that help me to get through those flare days, way too busy days or days I'm just not able to manage to do as much as I need or want to. Otherwise known as Spoonie Survival.

Firstly I want to preface this by saying; take care of your mental health. Remember that it is okay to have times where you do nothing physically but sleep and order out takeaway foods. Sometimes that is the best that you can do. Don't beat yourself up or your mental health will decline as well. I think that we all know that depression just makes everything so much harder.

I use my chest freezer and have embraced freezer cooking. Besides some pre-made heat and eat meals I have made up from cooking in bulk and freezing in portions. I have uncooked preprepared vegetables in sauces, sometimes with chopped or sliced meats, ready to drop into a crockpot or the pressure cooker. If I know early in the day, I can defrost and slow cook. But if I have a sudden crash of energy, exhaustion etc. I can still open the freezer, take out a snap lock bag, throw the frozen contents into the pressure cooker and have a healthy nutritious meal almost cook itself.

A hand holds a bright pink, yellow and green popsicle in the sun
Photo by Nicole De Khors from Burst

I keep Hydralite on hand. (It may be available under another brand name from your chemist. It is a rehydration formula to replace electrolytes and natural body salts which are often lost from vomiting, diarrhoea, and excessive sweating). I will also make the formula up into ice blocks, which can be sucked on to prevent dehydration when drinking fluids is difficult.

Sometimes the freezer options will run out. Especially if we all fall ill or I have a days long migraine. So I have backed up a few of the more nutritious canned soups. I also have a few pouches of precooked brown rice and jars of sauces filling out the pantry. Which we try to use before we call out for our favourite take-aways to be delivered.

This includes easy to eat snacks. Tubs or small single serves of fruits, juices, yoghurts, pretzels, muesli bars, nuts. For those times I must eat something so that I can have medications but don't want to eat or don't have the energy to wait for something to heat up. I even keep sliced bread in the freezer because you can take out just a slice or two at a time and make a cheese sandwich easily.

I try to grow some easy to grab, and eat or cook, greens such as aragula, silverbeet, amaranth, spinach, lettuce and herbs. These are good because they can grow in containers without much maintenance. Individual leaves can be cut off, as desired, leaving the plant to continue growing another crop. It is any easy way to add in greens for wraps or sandwiches. To break up the frozen food supply. Nutritionally I believe that frozen vegetables can be more beneficial than some store bought supplies. Thanks to snap freezing technologies.

When fatigue, pain, or just the busy-ness of being a mother, keep me from being able to have the full shower experience. I have learned to embrace baby wipes and dry shampoo. That will give me an extra day or maybe two if I give up on my hair and hide it in a beanie :-).

I also keep some herbal and green teas around. I drink these when I can't stand the taste of water, or coffee. As I don't add any sugars or milk to these. They may also have some healing properties; like ginger or peppermint are good at settling stomach upsets. A blend called "sleepytime" is full of natural sleep inducers. So I try that sometimes, even though I am sure that my pain negates any sleep possibilities. At least it tastes okay.

Do even a little physical movement every day. If you can go for a gentle walk around. Fresh air is always helpful, sunshine more so.

A woman stretches her arm across her body and looks over her shoulder as she warms up for a workout.

Photo by Sarah Pflug from Burst

If you can't walk around get some hand weights. I have used tin cans and water bottles to hold onto whilst doing some gentle stretches. I have printouts of exercises from past physiotherapists with upper arm exercises. Both sitting, standing and lying on the bed gentle whole body exercises to maintain as much physical ability and mobility as I can.

Suzy Jacobson
Suzy Jacobson


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