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The Importance of Occasionally Getting Pampered When You're Ill

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Everybody loves to be pampered. It’s a time to relax, let someone take care of your hair, nails, and/or skin, and unwind. But having a chronic illness means that sometimes I simply don’t have the energy to make a cup of tea, let alone go to the salon. Having a chronic illness means knowing your limitations, and making compromises with yourself. And that means, sadly, that beauty treatments aren’t always at the top of your list of priorities.

I’ve never been to a spa. I don’t really know anyone who has. They’re pretty expensive, something my income doesn’t stretch to, but I do, admittedly, love to feel pampered. I get my hair cut maybe once or twice a year, and used to go to a salon every couple of months to have my eyebrows waxed.

When I got married last year, I decided to have my nails done properly. I’ve always loved painting my nails, but get frustrated with them, and usually smudge them – especially my right hand. A few women in my office always have their nails done, so I asked for recommendations. One colleague said that a woman comes to her house to do her nails, which I thought sounded perfect. I arranged an appointment.

The woman who came round was my age, and we got on famously. She painted my nails a beautiful plum color, and waxed my eyebrows too. Since then, I’ve been seeing her fairly regularly – one or two times a month – and we’ve recently started experimenting with nail art. We’ve also attended a few exercise classes together!

I look forward to these appointments, because it means an hour or so of idle chatter, laughter, and just forgetting about your troubles. I also end up with lovely nails and freshly waxed brows, which always help to boost my confidence. I love the feeling of walking out of a salon – or, in this case, waving her off from my front door – as it makes me feel good, relaxed. It can help combat those feelings of depression that can accompany living with a chronic illness.

It’s such a simple thing – going for a facial, having a massage, getting your nails done – but it can make a difference to your life. If life is just one long stretch of time, broken up only by work, sleep, and food, it can be easy to get stuck in a rut.

Before I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, I was a mess. I barely socialized, we didn’t eat out, couldn’t even consider a holiday. I went to work and went to bed, pausing to eat rubbish convenience food in between, and trying to shower every day. I knew there was meant to be more to life. Life was meant to be enjoyable, wasn’t it, at least some of the time? This dark cycle continued for months, until I started treatment and, slowly, began to feel better.

Pampering myself is a ritual I use to make myself feel better when I’m stuck in a rut, or caught in a particularly bad flare. I go for a sports massage, which isn’t exactly relaxing, but it does help with muscle tension. I get my nails done. I get my hair cut. These things cost money, of course, and I’m privileged to be able to afford them with some regularity, but I work full-time, and I reason that I deserve to treat myself every so often.

Going to the salon isn’t going to lift your depression, nor is it going to cure your fibromyalgia. If only it was that simple! But sometimes, putting yourself first and into the capable hands of someone else, can help push the darkness back into the corners. Living with a chronic illness can be overwhelming at times, so taking an hour out of your day to relax and unwind can really make a difference.

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Thinkstock Image By: George Doyle

Originally published: August 15, 2017
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