01 Jun Managing Chronic Illness With The 10 Habits Of Body Thrive
I've been chronically ill for a long time, 7 years to be exact. I'm 31 years old and I've spent a big part of my adult life feeling less than optimal. Determined to live a “normal” life, I’ve pushed myself a lot. Living and acting like I'm okay, I ended up pushing my body to the limit and beyond. I tried unsuccessfully to match everyone else’s physical capacity, but deep down inside I knew that I had to listen and honor my own body, not someone else’s capacity.
Habits Were My Game Changer
I made it my mission to find ways that would help me feel better. I’ve changed my diet many times. I went vegetarian for 6 years, gluten free, paleo, and even keto. I deepened my yoga practice, tried herbs, relaxation, energy healing, and cannabis. I couldn't find any relief. Nothing seemed to work. I just kept feeling more tired, weaker and less energetic. Then, in the spring of 2016, I came across Yogahealer. I learned about Ayurveda and habits. I got the support I needed and I found tools to evolve my habits and implement them into my daily life. That was a game changer.
Even though I still have a chronic condition, my daily routine has supported me in enjoying a better quality of life. My daily practices helped me to get in touch with my body and listen to it with awareness and intention. I now give my body what it needs on a daily basis. The habits have taught me to love myself fully, and to be at ease with what is. My daily routine has helped my digestive system heal and sync with the rhythms of the nature that surround me. I now care for my senses, and most importantly, I live in integrity with my own values.
The 10 Habits of Body Thrive Have Power and Wisdom
Earlier lighter dinner, early to bed, start the day right, breath body practices, plant based diet, self massage, sitting in silence, healthier eating guidelines, sense organ care, easeful living. These 10 habits rooted in Ayurveda contain such power and wisdom, that if you introduce them into your life and stick with them, your experience on this earth will improve greatly in many different and surprising ways. These are all simple practices that when done daily, they’ll start to become automatic behaviors that form a healthy routine. That is the goal.
In the science of habit change, we have what are called keystone habits. These are a single or a set of behaviors that hold all of the other habits in place. In my case, I have a couple of keystone habits.
Early to bed is my first keystone habit. This habit is so important to me because a big part of my condition is fatigue and low energy. Going to bed early guarantees I get enough time and quality sleep for me. I usually go to bed in between 9:30 pm and 10pm. After I get in bed, I normally don’t have any trouble staying asleep and resting all night.
My Tips on How To Get Your Zzzzs
I get that this is not the case for everyone, so if you have trouble sleeping throughout the night or resting fully, I recommend you try a few things. One of them is self massage with warm oil before bed. You can massage your whole body, your feet, or just your head, whatever works better for you. Another tip is to try reducing the amount of fluid you consume after 6pm to avoid having to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night. My final tip is to make sure your room is as dark as you can possibly make it. Close all the shades or try wearing a sleep mask. Stop all interactions with electronic devices at least an hour before bed, to avoid mental stimulation and the amount of blue light that your eyes receive. The blue light tricks your brain into thinking it's daytime.
I Sit in Silence And It Really Makes A Difference
My second keystone habit is to sit in silence. The nature of my condition and my own ayurvedic constitution is strongly Vata. I have an overactive nervous system, and doing a silent meditation first thing in the morning has helped me tremendously to start my day in a calm, grounded and aware state. The way I sit in silence is practicing mindfulness meditation. I’ve been doing this for several years, and it has had a huge impact in my life. It’s given me perspective, as well as helped me to see and accept things as they are. Using meditation, I have become much more in touch with myself. Keep in mind that meditation is not the only way to practice this habit. You could just sit in a quiet and comfortable space and breathe. Or you could practice contemplation. Really, the point is to do something that provides a space for you to calm yourself and shed any worries or stress. Meditation allows you to get quiet and into a grounded state. There are many ways to do that.
Another couple of habits that I’ve found helpful for my condition are self massage and an earlier lighter dinner. Self Massage provides me with a sense of comfort and groundedness to my body. The oil brings an element of heaviness which is just what I need for my light and airy constitution and my nerves. An earlier lighter dinner helps my body wind down and relax before bed without a heavy and full feeling in my stomach. Eating an earlier, lighter dinner allows space for my body to do housekeeping overnight without any strain.
I Need to Keep Moving!
Because of the feeling of weakness and fatigue I often have, I tend to avoid major physical activity and in turn I find myself settling into sedentary behaviors. Thankfully, I usually catch myself. For me implementing a breath body practice has been quite challenging, but very beneficial. I see how easy it is for me to just sit around when I don't feel well, but my body needs movement to be able to circulate and awaken energy. Think about it, if you feel tired and unenergized and you sit around and become stagnant, those feelings are going to keep sinking you down deeper. If you move your body intentionally a little bit every day at different times throughout the day, you’ll start to awaken and produce the energy that your body is lacking.
Baby Steps Lead The Way
I've been approaching the implementation of this habit with small incremental improvements otherwise known as KAIZEN. The idea is to start introducing practices or actions in small increments. You can start easy and working your way up. One habit changing idea that has worked for me is is this. I start with five minutes of yoga everyday after meditation. Then I apply a 5-minute increase in my practice every other week until I reach my desired goal regarding the length of my practice. So far, I’ve found this to be the easiest way to implement new habits or behaviors into my life.
Simple Actions Can Change Your Life
In conclusion, no matter what your condition is – healthy, chronically ill or somewhere in between, the implementation of these practices will improve the quality of your life in many different forms. The way these practices have helped me and the results I have received may be very different from your own experience with them. Yet me sharing my own story is just a way of showing the power and wisdom that the habits inherently contain. My hope is to give you the push you need to start to practice these simple actions and make them part of your life, one habit at a time. And if you are already doing it, to encourage you to continue and cherish your daily habits like your life depends on them, because let’s be honest, it kind of does.