4 Ways I'm Making the Best of Resting My Chronically Ill Body


Another Saturday has come around where I’m waving off my husband and toddler who are off out for the morning, so I can have some time to rest and hopefully recharge. I know many parents probably long for a rest, but resting because you want to is very different to resting because it’s essential. A lot of people would probably think it would be lovely to have a day lying in bed or on the sofa, but when you’re suffering and in pain, it’s a very different experience. Also, it breaks my heart that I’m not going with them.

As I’m writing this, part of me feels guilty. I’m so grateful to my husband for being happy to spend time on the weekends entertaining our son. I know perhaps a lot of men wouldn’t be so understanding and genuinely pleased to spend so much time doing “kid’s stuff.” The logical part of my brain knows it’s great they have such a special bond and that my son is going to spend the morning enjoying all the physical things I would struggle to do. However, the emotional side of me feels sad. Looking back on how I used to be before getting ill, I was the kind of person who would have loved to be running around parks or going for walks up hills.

When living with a chronic illness like chronic fatigue syndrome, getting sufficient rest is essential. That often means having to miss out on things, as well as ignoring tasks that need to be done, such as cleaning the house. It can be so frustrating seeing an untidy room, yet not having the energy to do anything about it. Or, you know that if you decide to tidy it, you will have to trade it for another activity you wanted or needed to do, or worse – cause a flare-up of symptoms.

After a little cry, I get myself together and realize I have a choice. I can continue to feel bad, sad, frustrated and guilty… or I can decide to use the time wisely. I do this by making rest as positive an experience as possible. Also, getting frustrated causes a flare of symptoms in itself, so I figure it’s for the best!

So how do we go about doing this? I’m sure everyone will have their own ideas on what works for them, and I would really love to hear those… but here are my “allies” when it comes to making the best of rest!

1. Tea

I like to make myself a nice cup of my favorite tea and take the time to sit, relax and enjoy it. I find that a square (or three!) of good quality dark chocolate goes perfectly with peppermint tea – which you have to try! If I’m feeling well enough and it’s a dry day, I like to have this outside in the garden. Being in nature really helps to relax my mind and body. Otherwise, it’s the sofa or taking it up to bed. Get yourself cozy, sip, relax and enjoy! Really take the time to enjoy the experience.

2. Reading

I like to have a couple of books stored on my Kindle at the ready for reading. I love having a Kindle as it’s so light. If my arms are too tired, I can prop it up on a pillow whilst reading. I was a book lover so it took me a while to let those go, but I honestly think it’s one of my best purchases since becoming ill.

I usually have an easy fiction book on the go where I don’t have to think too hard, as well as a more thought-provoking book. A recent favorite was “The Alchemist,” which was a lovely, positive read. There’s so many fantastic bits I could quote but here is one of my favorites:

“The simple things are also the most extraordinary things, and only the wise can see them.” 

I love losing myself in a good book. It provides some much needed escapism from all the pain and suffering. Also, I may learn a thing or two, or gain a new perspective.

3. Meditation

I have found meditation to be one of the most helpful ways to relax my mind and body. It allows everything to quieten down – be it my thoughts or my symptoms. Before becoming ill, I used to be the kind of person who felt I was too busy to meditate. I now realize I missed out on creating a space in my life to relax and simply be.

These days I find meditation is essential in helping me manage my symptoms and one of the most positive things I can do when resting. Like reading, it also provides me with some much needed escapism from my symptoms.

I’m not exactly what you call the perfect meditator. Some days are easier than others. My mind can often still be busy, and I often fall asleep. However, to me, the most important thing is that my body is getting the opportunity to relax and hopefully recover a little. Even on the days where my mind is busy or I struggle to switch off from the pain, I always still feel better afterwards. In fact, many types of meditation now tell you to simply acknowledge your thoughts and pain – rather than trying to push stuff away.

There are so many different types of meditation to try, and I like to mix it up a bit by trying different methods. I find different things work on different days. There are meditation apps like “Headspace” and “Calm,” which are useful. Sometimes I simply do a search on YouTube and pick a meditation track I like the sound of! Currently I’m enjoying guided meditations by the “Honest Guys.”

4. Naps

Often after a meditation I have a little nap – if I’ve not already dozed off. Once my mind and body are more relaxed I find it easier to drift off. I usually set my alarm for 30 minutes later, as I find if I sleep much longer than this, I risk feeling worse. I find this is enough time for me to recharge a little without risking preventing sleep at nighttime. However, we’re all different and you have to do what works best for you. Just listen to your body. Some days you may need more sleep and others you’ll need less.

Usually after a nap I’ll initially feel worse. However, once I’ve had my green tea and moved around a little I find I feel the benefits. Without that time to recharge I know I’d feel a heck of a lot worse.

So there are my four favorite ways to make the best of rest. It doesn’t change the fact that I’d rather be spending time with my family, or doing something fun. However, it does help to make me feel more calm and relaxed.

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