10 Tips for Healing (and a bonus!)
As I've been settling in to being at home, healing, for the next many weeks, I've compiled what's helping with my healing. It's a list (of course). I'm hoping it may help others who are on a healing journey. Enjoy!
1. Choose your attitude
While I'd love to be at work contributing as a productive member of my team and organization, I'm not going to lament being house-bound. Before heading into surgery, I got my head around being in a different mode when I came out the other side. I consciously chose a perspective in which to stand during the coming weeks, with a focus on listening to my body, taking things slowly, and doing what feels good in the moment, in honour of my body getting what it needs in the short-term so that I may return to my full life as quickly as possible.
I choose to see these weeks of healing as a gift. So many people around the world don't have the luxury of an employer that allows them time away without penalty. I'm grateful for mine, and for the flexibility of my coaching clients who enable me to work around my healing needs. I'm also grateful my husband is able to take compassionate care leave from his place of employment to cater to my every whim and demand. Oh, and to keep our house running, because all I can do is cook and take items out of the washing machine one at a time...I'm not allowed to vacuum, push a shopping cart, lift a basket of clothes, or reach the higher shelves...so, while I could feel pretty useless (and I do!), I choose to remember this is temporary.
I'm calling my stance, or attitude, "healing." It's something I can go back to when I'm feeling restless or frustrated at not being able to DO things or whatever. I follow it up with a question to help ground me and enable the best healing for me: "Is this a healing choice?"
We all know we need sleep to heal at any old time, and this is especially true following trauma to the body. I took this opportunity to have our mattress flipped (thanks husband!), put on clean sheets (with help, of course) and switch out our duvet for lighter spring/summer blankets. This has resulted in better sleeping at night. I've also gone to be earlier than normal, and sleep in a bit later than normal. AND, I've taken an afternoon nap (so glorious!!), or at least some quiet time, every day after lunch.
I'm listening to what my body needs to have quality sleep in the quantity it needs for maximum healing. I'm a big fan (although sometimes not the best follower) of bedtime rituals. They work for kids AND adults! We made the conscious choice to exclude screens from our bedrooms. We read with cozy lighting before sleeping. Sometimes we run a scented diffuser. We have blackout blinds for total velvety darkness. We quickly remove the snoring and/or dreaming dog from our room if he impedes our peaceful sleep. We all do better with a good night's sleep.
Water is life. Period. I've consumed more water in the past week than I have in the previous month, I'm sure. I'm drinking up to four litres a day. That's about 16 cups, if my math-y goodness skills are up to snuff. I'm taking it in the form of water from my tap (from my well, then cleaned and filtered through my $20k water treatment system), herbal teas (which I'm not usually into...so unsatisfying...), warm water with freshly-squeezed lemon with honey from my neighbour's farm, chilled and yummy coconut water, and a steaming mug of miso every day. The benefits are numerous: my digestion is improved; I feel more clear mentally; I've flushed out a nasty cold in record time; I feel less hungry during the day.
4. Fresh air and sunshine
It is finally spring on the Prairies. The temperatures are above zero most of the time and a couple days ago it was warm enough to sit on my screened deck in the sunshine while I drank my morning coffee. Yay! The birds are back! We have about a thousand square feet of deck wrapping our house in three directions, so I can follow the sun throughout the day. Fresh air equals better sleep. Sunshine equals Vitamin D and happiness. All equal healing.
5. Light and easy movement
My discharge papers direct me to walk as I am able, as it will help with healing. I've been going for two 30 to 60-minute walks every day. Our fields are dry enough that I can trudge through them and rediscover the rolling hills, sloughs and bluffs on our property. I can see the damage the pocket gophers have wreaked on our land, and witness the geese, ducks and red-winged black birds returning to our marsh. I've seen our resident fox sneaking through the taller grasses, and I'm on the lookout for the badgers that emerge slowly from the ground before the new hay starts to green. I recommend walking with a dog, if at all possible. They tend to set a good pace and help you pause from time to time to just take in your surroundings while they try to dig out a gopher, shoulder-deep in the moist dirt. I'm hoping to re-establish some gentle yoga asanas in the coming weeks as well.
6. Nutrient-rich foods
Growing up diabetic, I'm super knowledgeable about nutrition, and how food impacts my body. I don't buy in to fads or crazes, strict diets, magical supplements or other politicization of food. Better food choices means better blood sugar control which means better healing. It's pretty simple.
Food is fuel. Choose the best fuel for YOUR body. Pay attention to how what you eat makes you feel. The human body can turn almost anything you put in it into energy, so why not treat it with some respect and give it something good, at least most of the time, I figure. Especially when your body is repairing and rebuilding cells and tissues. Choose foods that are as close to whole and real as possible. You know, like fruits and vegetables, whole grains, eggs, fish. We all need fibre, protein and healthy fats to function, and eating whole, colourful foods -- a variety of them -- will speed healing.
Am I going for ice cream this weekend? Damn straight. Am I dreaming about that first post-surgery glass of wine on the deck on a warm evening? You bet. Am I eating whole, real food at most meals? Yes. Will I heal more quickly and thoroughly because of these choices? I believe so.
7. Tuning in
I mentioned before that I'm paying attention to my body and listening for what it needs to heal. To assist with the intentionality of this, I'm focusing my daily meditation practice on my healing. Sometimes I'll do a guided visualization, other times I'll be in silence, and other times I'll sit with a thought or question. This daily tuning in allows me the decadent stillness I need to feel grounded and whole. It calms my nervous system and clears away the chatter in my mind. It's helping me to hear my body's messages about what I need to heal.
Let's be honest: sometimes you just don't want to think about your health or other life responsibilities. I totally get that. That's where distraction and escape come in as a healthy part of healing. I've been diving into a stack of books, articles, documentaries and films. My mind is being redirected to something other than myself and my current situation, and expanded at the same time. I'm trying to limit my screen time each day because I know my tendency to get sucked into binge-watching will throw all the other things on this list out the window. I'm leaning on my question, "Is this a healing choice?" a lot!
Though the magic of the interwebs, I'm able to feel connected...to you! Human connection is so important, especially in times of healing. I'm revelling in spending more time with my family at home this past week, and connecting with friends, clients and colleagues (virtually at the moment, but hopefully in real-life in the coming weeks!). I also recently joined Meetup. I'm looking forward to planning some fun and stress-free get-togethers for local folks in my Playful Joy meetup!
Never underestimate the healing powers of:
- a hot shower
- clean sheets
- fresh flowers
- yoga pants
- cozy blankets
- snuggles from a pooch
- cranking up your favourite music and dancing around the house (very carefully!)
Find what brings your comfort, and indulge.
Having a vision of the future -- for when you're all healed up good-like -- will pull you forward when things get tough or boring or whatevs. Create a list of the things you're looking forward to doing, people you're looking forward to hanging with, and places you're looking forward to visiting. Post it where you can see it. Add to it. Make it juicy!
Right now, mine includes things like:
- planting our garden!
- starting a big, exciting project at work!
- wearing pants with non-stretchy waistbands!
- going grocery shopping by myself!
- enjoying some sexy times with my husband (I mean, have you seen him?!)
I'm hoping some of these tips will resonate with you. Take what you like, leave the rest. You do you.
In love and light,