Healing isn’t linear
Anyone with chronic illness will know that healing isn’t linear. This can be a frustrating truth to accept but, once you do, it is also very freeing.
Nothing in life is linear. We all experience bumps in the road. Wouldn’t life be boring without this polarity?! Seriously though, I know it can also suck. Personally, I am now starting to appreciate the lessons that these bumps bring (once I’ve had a quick stew in the emotions they stir up!).
For people living with chronic illness, these roadblocks can feel particularly frustrating, draining and like a kick in the teeth when you’ve invested so much energy in your healing. Trust me, I get this SO deeply.
However, it can really throw you off if you let these setbacks derail you or allow the “mean girl” (as Melissa Ambrosini would say) voice in your head to take over your thoughts, mood and sense of self.
I want to dedicate this post to those inevitable days we all get with Hashimoto’s – “flares” or “thyroid days”. Generally, the further along your healing journey you are, the less these days will come around.
However, as we know, there are things in our environment and outside of our control that have the power to tip things out of balance… family health issues, relationship dramas, job losses or financial struggles and much, much more.
Sometimes after a period of feeling “normal” or even GREAT (woah there!) you might notice those classic symptoms starting to creep back in… anxiety, irritability, depression, fatigue, brain fog, memory issues, weight gain, cold intolerance, racing heart, joint pain, digestive issues, ETC.
I hope the following tips will help arm you in such circumstances.
Many of the tips I’m going to share from my personal experience with “thyroid days” are actually helpful to any lovely human who’s having a down day or struggling.
I hope this article will help pick you up and power you through to sunnier times – which will come (they always do).
N.B. I know how some days, some of these tips will feel impossible – even moving from your bed might be a problem when you’re faced with zombifying fatigue and pain. That’s okay.
Pick what you feel able to from the list and perhaps, make your own personal list – that way you’ve got instant inspo next time you flare! Let me know any golden suggestions you’ve tried and tested too
Remove guilt. Insert permission and acceptance
Don’t start analysing all the things you could have done to cause this flare or situation. You are not to blame – shit happens.
Skip the overthinking which will only make matters worse. Remember, every cell in your body is eavesdropping on your thoughts.
Begin by accepting this temporary situation and giving yourself permission to feel ALL the feels and do whatever you need to start feel better.
Cancel plans, relax and REST
Rest and sleep = body healing time. This is the most important step. If you can, take a day off work and cancel any social plans that will zap you of your energy. Don’t do chores that can be done tomorrow (or next week). Press pause on the to-do list. Crack out your self-care list.
You aren’t a failure, a let-down or a flake, and anyone who judges you for this decision needs to do some self-work… that’s THEIR STUFF.
Pressure off, pyjamas on – preferably warms ones to help with the intolerance to cold. Give your body the best fighting chance to get things back into balance – it might not feel like it right now, but your body is on your team.
Take it easy on exercise
Let yourself off the hook with exercise. Yes, you might have scheduled in some heavy weight lifting or an awesome new cardio-dance fusion class, but intense forms of exercise will only make you feel worse.
Exercise is inflammatory. During a flare, your body is already very inflamed.
We’d like to avoid adding fuel to the fire! If it makes your joints feel better or calms your mind, then perhaps some yoga (good for lymphatic drainage) or a walk out in nature would be helpful, but if you don’t feel up to it then listen to your body and REST.
Get some sun
If you have the energy, get outside for a walk or even simply sit in the sun with a book, some music or a meditation. Zoning out, getting into nature and absorbing some juicy Vitamin D will all work wonders for your mind and body.
Find a place that makes you feel calm and happy. For me, that place is sat in front of the ocean.
The result of this practice on your parasympathetic nervous system and stress hormones will have a hugely calming effect on the storm going on inside.
Drink a KICK ASS smoothie
Honestly, when I drink a smoothie full of energising, detoxifying and satiating ingredients – my day gets 10X better.
The combination of feeling assured that my body has the nutrients required to do its healing thang, as well as the instant energy boost from being hydrated and fuelled – that’s EPIC.
If you’re doing the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) diet or have food intolerances, you might need to adapt what you put in it but just do what makes you feel good.
Nourish and hydrate your body
Even if you don’t feel overly hungry, your body needs nutritional power to heal.
Drink plenty of filtered water. This will help you get back some mental clarity. It will also help your kidneys and liver detox whatever they’re dealing with, and keep you regular.
Herbal tea with turmeric and ginger can also help with this. Feel like you need a treat? Drink some sparkling, refreshing kombucha!
Chow down on regular wholefood meals with adequate protein, vibrant fruits and veggies, anti-inflammatory fats and nutrition-filled carbs (like sweet potato).
Avoid refined sugar, processed foods and anything your body doesn’t respond well to (yes, even that comforting cheesy pizza!), wherever possible. This way you’ll avoid feeding the bad guys and further burdening your system.
Take your supplements
This is more of a long-term tip but we’re all aware of the fact that these days, often our food sources of vitamins and minerals aren’t adequate – especially when it comes to healing from deficiencies and dealing with disease.
Good levels of B vitamins, iron (although this is a slow burn!), Selenium, Vitamin D, good bacteria (from probiotics), Zinc, Magnesium, etc., are especially important for those of us with thyroid conditions like Hashimoto’s.
As your body replenishes its stores and starts to function more fluidly with adequate support, you will start to feel more energised and clear-headed.
I also take herbal supplements prescribed by my naturopath to support my immune system. These kinds of “boosters” can reduce the risk of having flares and also help you recover faster.
Do or watch something that will make you laugh
I honestly cannot even stress enough (ironic use of the word!) the power of laughter and mindset in the healing process. When your mind experiences joy, your body feels it too; fight or flight mode gets switched off and your body is able to focus on the important stuff – like getting you better.
When you’re in fight or flight mode you aren’t even able to digest, let alone heal.
Doing something that makes you laugh also helps to distract you from cycling thought patterns of guilt, fear, worry, pain or sadness. Remember, your thoughts create your reality. Use your mind like the tool it is and put it to good use – you’ll be amazed at the effects.
Journal… release emotions and let go of what’s not serving you
I tried this particular form of journaling the other day and it felt SO freeing. I spent just a few minutes writing down every object, person, emotion, habit or situation that I felt was holding me back or wasn’t serving me anymore – everything I wanted to release.
Even having these thoughts down on paper seemed to free them from my overthinking head and reduce their power over me. It felt like I’d done half the job of letting them go already!
You can also try just writing everything that is coming into your mind – without judgement. Good, bad or ugly. Not having these thoughts, fears, dreams, goals or “to dos” bustling around in your brain anymore is RIDICULOUSLY calming, soothing and satisfying.
Tune IN to your body
This last point is about being true to you. Healing, health and happiness look different for every single person. No one’s Insta story or blog post is going to give you all of the answers. Take this time to prioritise yourself – it’s not selfish, it’s necessary. Your body is calling out for you to do it. Ignoring my body is what got me into my original mess in the first place.
Need to take a nap at 3pm? Do it. Need to duck out of a commitment because you’re not feeling up to it? Do it. Your boss, spouse, family and friends would rather have you opt-out today than be unable to function for weeks or even months to come.
Give your body the tools it needs to get back on track or fight the invader, then give yourself permission to ride the process out in whichever way you need.
Wow, that ended up being a long one. Kudos if you made it to the end – I appreciate you! I hope the above tips help you as much as they help me in times of need – and if you have any more to add to the list, I’d love to hear them.