What can we do to live easier? I work with women that live with fibromyalgia and this is their primary quest. Personally, as someone that has experienced fibro, I know firsthand when we are told to exercise more, lose weight, sleep more, think positive, do this or do that, or asked “have you tried this yet, ” it can be extremely frustrating! And depending upon our mood in that moment, we either scoff at the audacity of someone who knows nothing about what we go through trying to give us advice or we politely nod and say “thanks, I’ll try that.”
Gently Feed the Heart, Mind, and Body
Even as some of us struggle with symptoms and discomfort of fibromyalgia, we may also be juggling work and family. This can leave little time and energy to do the things that might actually help us feel better. And that is one of the major dilemmas in having fibromyalgia, we use all our spoons to do for others and may not save a spoon for feeding ourselves– our heart, mind, and body.
Note: for those of you who aren’t aware of the description of using spoons, it comes from the Spoon Theory devised by Christine Miserandino, who used a tangible example of spoons to explain the use and conservation of mental and physical energy by someone with a chronic illness. The theory is that you start the day with a specific number of spoons and everything you do or any stress that you experience uses one or more of your spoons. The goal of someone that suffers with limited energy is to very carefully select the activities they do in a day so they can complete what they need before they run out of spoons. Spoon theory – Wikipedia
What if you could do 4 easy rituals every day that wouldn’t use up a spoon AND might actually help you gain a spoon here or there over time? Here are the things I’ve found that are so easy and can be incorporated into the tiniest of timelines or expanded to fit any timeframe you choose. These are the things that I find if I neglect, I actually have less spoons than I would have had. I used to be rigid about these, but I’m practicing more self-kindness now, allowing myself to recognize when I missed one of these rituals because of a rushed schedule and gently direct myself to begin again tomorrow.
We know that if we are taking care of others and have obligations, then in order to do our best we really must take care of ourselves. I’m going to share 4 daily rituals that will lift your spirits and soothe your body. These acts of self-care can even be easier than taking a shower! I’ve been there — and my heart understands all of you that post on the Facebook fibromyalgia groups how hard it is to take the steps to shower and wash your hair. I know, it is a major effort when you don’t feel good!
Here are 4 simple rituals that will boost your self-care without leaving you drained.
- Stretch In the Morning
I DID NOT say exercise. No way, I wouldn’t do that. I’ve hurt myself way too many times trying to wrestle my body into getting into shape. I’ve been cruel so often pushing my body and thinking I must just be lazy, let me get into the habit of exercising. Nope that is not what I would suggest until you feel your body not only wants to do it, but your body has the resilience to do what we think of as “exercise.”
What I’m naming as an easy daily ritual is a few minutes of gentle stretching when you get up in the morning. Nothing too strenuous at all is expected. Heck, do your stretching in bed at first as you make it a daily habit. The intention is to get a little circulation moving through your limbs as you wiggle and GENTLY elongate your muscles. This can help support flexibility and reduce the jolt of swinging your legs to the side of your bed and stepping onto the floor. If your feet feel like you are walking on nails and your ankles are stiff when you first try to walk, wiggling your feet and flexing your ankles before getting up can really help. When this is done on a daily basis, overtime you won’t even have to think about doing it.
Once up and out of bed, try stretching some of your muscles to gently incorporate range of motion for your shoulders by doing shoulder shrugs and gentle neck rolls, and moving your wrists in circles and flexing them forward and back. Designing these mini stretching routines for yourself in the morning as you get out of bed will help you feel more limber as you start your day, and you will probably notice that you are able to dress easier and reach farther with ease like when you are putting on your shoes.
- Meditate, Pray, or Quietly Reflect
This daily ritual has to be my favorite! And sometimes I do this in bed before I get up too, but I really love to get myself a cup of coffee and sit quietly somewhere in the morning as I prepare my mind and heart for the day. This is not a time to worry, but a time to gather your thoughts, ask for guidance, breathe through any anticipated obstacles, release any feelings of apprehensiveness, recognize blessings in your life, practice gratitude, and set your intention for the day. Meditating, praying or quietly reflecting is a way to improve your overall sense of well-being. It’s known to foster a sense of inner peace and a calm mood, can help combat stress, and when done before bed may lead to relaxation that helps your sleep.
This is meant to be an easy daily ritual, so start with 2-3 minutes. Do it first thing when you are aware of being awake in the morning before you stretch. Or if you have time to sit and drink a cup of coffee or tea, before you check your phone, apps, and email, spend a few minutes breathing good into your day.
- Drink Enough Water
Everyone has a different idea about how much water we need to drink, some say 6 – 8 glasses, others say half your body weight in ounces. I say as much as it takes for your urine to be light in color. And this is going to be different for everyone. You don’t want to drink too much at a time that it makes you feel bloated, but you want enough that your body can meet its needs. Staying hydrated helps to keep your body working properly and helps to excrete waste. If it is easier to remember, keep a habit journal and make a mark each time you have a cup of water.
- Smile to Yourself in the Mirror
Yeah, you heard me right. And yes, it might feel silly but smiling at yourself in the mirror or just smile even if you aren’t looking in a mirror. It can help us have a good day in several ways. First of all, science has told us that if we turn up the corners of our mouth into a smile shape it can actually help us to start feeling happy.
It turns out that the movement of the mouth shape seems to help facilitate the release of neurotransmitters such as dopamine, endorphins, and serotonin. This is phenomenal! These are the neurotransmitters that work in the body to help us feel good, happy and motivated. Endorphins are also considered natural pain relievers!!
Now, that we know this—the next time we find ourselves in pain if we can remember, let’s try turning the corners of our mouth up like we are smiling. Although the people around us might think we are going a little crazy, it might just help them too. As if smiling for happy neurotransmitters and pain relief sounds out there, you might be surprised to learn that smiling is also contagious. When we smile at others it makes them feel good too. And this amazing cycle begins. Most people will smile back at you and your brain will register a reward feeling that keeps you smiling. Just think of the ripple affect you will make by smiling. As you help yourself feel better by smiling, it will help others feel better too.
Now, go gently be your best self today! Stretch, then meditate, pray or reflect to set your intention for the day, drink plenty of water throughout the day, and smile. Use these ridiculously simple rituals to have an easier day.
Hearts & (gentle) Hugs,