For the last couple of weeks our family has been pretty focused on a beloved member of our family who has been quite ill and hospitalized. It is hard to focus on writing when this becomes the center of your prayer focus and an overwhelming interest. I won’t go into the disease or the prognosis right now but I’d like to focus on the idea of recovery. “Nana,” as she is known is coming home soon – to the delight and happiness of all. So here are some tips on recovering that might help you too.
1. Don’t worry or focus on negative thoughts
Worrying or thinking negatively about possible situations can be harmful. It adds to your levels of anxiety or stress and can adversely affect your health. Try these instead…
• When you start to worry, write down your concerns, both negative and positive. Look at each and think about possible GOOD points. Remind yourself that you can cope.
• Seek information about your best recovery options.
• Realistically assess your worries and think about other things.
• Find a variety of positive activities to focus on each day – like reading, walking, watching a movie, calling a friend, or encouraging others who are struggling. Even if you can only manage short periods at a time because you find activity difficult, make sure your day is varied and challenging.
2. Find ways to reduce your stress
Stress and tension can affect you physically in many ways, including muscle tension, headaches, and other phantom pains. This may be experienced as tension in the eyes, jaw, neck, shoulders, lower back and stomach. To help reduce stress and physical tension try this…
• Learn to sense signs of tension in your body. Stop regularly and think about how muscles in your body feel. Identify those muscles that seem most tense when you feel stressed.
•Regularly use slow deep breathing. Deep breathing using abdominal muscles is preferable to shallow breathing relying on chest muscles.
• Learn to take more time out to relax – for example, focus on pleasant images and listen to music to calm you.
• Learn a deep muscle relaxation technique, utilize a massage therapist to help.
3. Diet, exercise and sleep
A healthy diet, regular exercise and adequate sleep can help you to cope with a medical condition, illness or injury. Sometimes medication and treatment for a condition, or the pain caused by it, can have an impact on your appetite, energy levels and sleeping patterns. Here are some things to improve your diet…
• Eat small meals regularly throughout the day rather than one or two heavy meals.
• Choose nutritious foods that you enjoy eating.
• If you don’t feel like eating, try having small amounts often.
• Avoid unhealthy foods – don’t even keep them in the house.
• Keep active
• Regular physical movement and exercise promotes health and wellbeing and helps prevent injury. Do some physical activity every day, even if it is only a small amount.
4. Get enough sleep
Sleep is very important if you have a medical condition. Here is what to do to help you get enough good sleep
• Don’t nap during the day if you don’t have to.
• Lie in bed only if you plan to sleep, it’s not for watching TV.
• Don’t drink tea or coffee or other caffeine beverages after 4:00PM.
• Have some physical activity during the day so that your body is ready for sleep at night.
So remember, medical conditions, illness and injury can cause stress that affects our health dramatically. Our lifestyle choices – such as worry and anxiety, stress and tension, diet, exercise, sleep – can affect the symptoms of illness and our recovery.
Positive thinking, relaxation, a healthy diet, regular exercise, good sleep all promote health and wellbeing.
Psalm 33:4 reminds us of the faithfulness of God as we recover: “For the word of the LORD holds true, and we can trust everything he does.” Lean on God’s power as you recover – it’s the best medicine.