If you have been following my blog for a while, you will know that I am about as far from the glowing, twirly-haired, no-carbs type bloggers you might see on Instagram as you can possibly get. I am a different kind of blogger. The type with a more washed-out complexion, too much top-knot (due to not having the skills to style hair many other ways) and a good amount of toast and potatoes in my life.
That said, there is nothing wrong with being the other type of blogger – or person – at all. We are all different and every (non-illegal) nuance is one I can note and respect.
For some people though, health issues (and/or a lack of interest) can count them out of the twirl and the glow. For a little while or for quite some time. I am a people like that.
I have a few health challenges that make my goals a little different from the ideals suggested on Instagram – or even in the people we see on TV (much twirl, so sparkle!)
There are heaps of people like me who focus their days on feeling as good as they can and slotting some bolstering things into their day to keep morale up.
That sounds kind of underachieving, but it’s actually a really great way to get to know yourself and find out what matters most to you – and what you’re made of.
If you’re the kind of person who is not in peak form, but wants to think up some trusty ways to make your days feel better and brighter, then I have some good ideas.
Not to go into it too much, but I’m a little lacking in energy a lot of the time and working with some sub-par lungs, a grumpy uterus, anxiety and depression. These things mean that I need to have my own sort of prescription for nice times. That personal prescription doesn’t really look like the glow-y Instagram life, but it is STILL actually great and I feel pretty glad that I know what works for me.
So, how should you treat yourself when you’re a little peaky a lot of the time? Let us count the ways!
Please note that approaching each and every one of these with some compassion for yourself, rather than kicking your own butt, is absolutely key. V. important.
Bolstering tips for those with consistently peaky health
Create your own prescription for nice times
Don’t fall for the out-of-the-box stuff you see on Instagram, because you are your own special you! Shake off the self-judgement and take a good look at how you feel, what your energy levels look like at different times of the day, what makes you feel terrible, what makes you feel great.
Think about what you can tweak for optimal ace-ness. A good way to do this is to make notes for a day or two, see what body/mind things crop up, note your activity levels, sleep patterns, fatigue patterns, what you’re snacking on, if you’re drinking.
Build a good picture of how you do you – and see if any relationships between how you feel and what you’re up to emerge. Do you need to sleep more? Do you need to eat more regularly? Are you pushing yourself too hard? Do you need to work on that snotty voice inside your head? Do you need to rethink how you are responding to a toxic person? Do you need to make more tea cosies? Or listen to more music? See more of your pals? Or less? Or make more pots of delicious tea and drink many, many cups? Is actual mindfulness (not the surface level often hashtagged buzzword version, but the helpful and science-based kind of mindfulness) something that you want to explore?
Ask yourself questions relating to the picture you made of your day – and begin to try new approaches and/or routines in answer to them.
Build in some movement
It can be hard to get moving when you’re feeling like a piece of poop. We see people working out so vigorously and enthusiastically and expertly online. But that doesn’t have to be your cup of tea. And it’s not all or nothing. Find what works for you.
Perhaps it’s doing a tiny 5 minutes of yoga each day (a little goes a long way!), to remind your body that there are muscles and blood and organs that wouldn’t mind a little bit of attention? Perhaps it’s a gentle work to the corner – or around the block? Perhaps it’s a drive to the park, packing a hot cuppa, and a little stroll over to a bench to watch the dogs at play?
Not everyone can ‘feel the burn’ – for whatever reason, temporary or lifelong – and it’s important to give yourself permission to tackle movement a different way. In your own way.
Food is your friend
Oh my gawd. I could write a long and ranty essay on how many of us relate to food, but I won’t. Instead I will say this: Food is your friend. It is not some kind of snacky Darth Vader trying to trip you up and turn you into someone too hideous for the naked eye to bear.
You can waste an awful lot of time obsessing about the morality of food and beating yourself up over ‘good’ and ‘bad’ snacks. Please don’t.
Try – with all your might – to both nourish and forgive yourself when it comes to eating. Love yourself by cooking yummy food from scratch and eating it happily. Or by buying your favourite golden (or grey or red – no judgement! You do you, boo!) treats from the shops and eating ’em happily.
Remember to breathe
If you, like me, are dealing with things like asthma or anxiety or a tendency toward anaemia, you are probably not very good at breathing the usual human way. Maybe you hold your breath without meaning to? Maybe you shallow breathe (guilty!). There are lots of ways to work at righting this.
You could try some yoga breathing? You could download an app that helps you focus on breathing deeply? You could try walking more and breathing more rhythmically as you stride? There are even breathing therapies you can sign up for. Or you could just, you know, lie on your bed and concentrate on breathing for a few minutes each day without any of these fancy bells and whistles.
It’s good to breathe properly because it allows your body to work the way it should, and boosts energy levels too.
Find professionals to support you
This is obviously easy at first glance – there are doctors and therapists galore! – but finding the right expert-y types to support you is not always easy.
Health professionals are often very pushed for time and when you’re feeling shite you might not have the strength to ask for an extra 5 minutes to sort through what’s really going on with you. Or you might feel so stressed that you forget to ask the things you wanted to. If you see a doctor that is not really addressing your issues, or you feel that they’re not really listening to you, see if you can summon up the mettle to find a different doctor.
Ask for recommendations via your friends (a group chat on Facebook can help broach this stuff away from prying eyes, if you are the private kind) or look for a support group/organisation for your condition/s and ask them who you should see. Don’t let it slide, because it’s really easy to struggle on for years unsupported and your quality of life will suffer.
When you’re getting the correct treatment for what ails you, you very (obviously) often are able to live a much better life. #NoShitSherlock (Yet often we don’t do this!)
Forgive yourself – then celebrate your non-shiny self!
Honestly, nobody is totally shiny all of the time, and who even says shiny is the ideal?!
Maybe gently opaque is your thing? Brilliant. Perhaps you’re occasionally luminous? Ace. You might even be mysteriously static or have flashes of crimson. I mean, you do you, gurrrrrrrl. Or guy. Or non-binary buddy. The world needs those types of humans too.
And let’s face it, actual LIFE is not shiny all the time. While it is oft touted as a ride where you must seek happiness (and an ideal of ‘fitness’) all the livelong day, it’s actually a mish-mash of ‘yay!’ and ‘you thought things were going great didn’t you? Gotcha! Take this adversity, sucker!’
And that is totally okay. We simply can not control it all.
What we can control is our response to the ‘yay’ and the ‘yikes’.
What we can control is our efforts to slot our (already brilliant) selves into a sort of shiny that does not fit.
What we can control is the way we accept, admire, respect, care for, love and show compassion for ourselves.
So go do that, you occasionally luminous/gently opaque/mysteriously static GEM!
PS: accept, admire, respect, care for, love and show compassion for others too!