By Helen Huntsman
You know that saying, “I’ll sleep when I’m dead?”
I’ve decided that people who say that have never been tired.
Today I’d like to share a bit about my experience with chronic fatigue. The assignment from Rare Faith was to talk about “How to overcome it” and I don’t have a solution (I’d be a rich lady if I did!), but I do have some thoughts and insights to share. In this article, I talk about my own health journey, but please remember! I am not a doctor. My goal is to share my experience to hopefully help others in their own journey when communicating their needs with the healthcare team!
I first experienced fatigue, as a brand new mom, driving to the doctor after having my first child via c-section. My mother-in-law is driving the car, and I’m crying because I’m so tired. I go to the doctor and I say, “I feel like I’m losing my mind.”
And he said, “You are. In prisoner of war camps, the first thing they do to mess with you is they mess with your sleep.”
From 1988 to 1995, I felt like I never got a good night’s sleep. I was in a cloud of fatigue, pain from arthritis and running 3 businesses.
When you’re the mom, you’re running a corporation – and there’s no HR in sight!
#1: Saying No to Get To Bed – Prioritizing Sleep
The first thing to do is to PRIORITIZE your sleep, and let other things go that aren’t as important. And besides keeping your kids and family alive, there’s not that much more important than sleep.
People often tell you to have boundaries, but what they DON’T tell you is that you’re going to tick a lot of people off when you first implement them.
You have to learn that SELF-CARE is not SELFISH. I’ve learned that by filling my bucket first, I can then help other people.
#2: My Pain, Errr… Health Journal
The next thing that I do that is SUPER important is a daily health journal. I used to call this my “pain journal” but I’m trying to rebrand it for myself, lol.
I wake up in the morning, and I check in with my body. I’ll go, “How you doing?” And I’ll track any pain and a scale, and I’ll write what time I go to bed/wake up. Doing that helps me track any issues to be proactive (pain leading to not sleeping), and also defend my bed time.
And sometimes my body tells me, “I’m too tired.” And I’ll then be proactive and look at my top priorities for the day, and sometimes I’ll have to let stuff go.
One time, my floor was very sticky, and cleaning the floor was not a priority. So I put on tennis shoes and just walked across it. It was very empowering.
Reading a book on health, Dr. Michael Breus shared that you breathe out almost a liter of water – from just BREATHING. This puts your body under a lot of stress if you haven’t been drinking water, because you’re low on water. To have the best sleep possible and combat fatigue, water intake is critical.
I’ve learned to carry around those SUPER tall smart water bottles (or the Costco brand) that’s 1 L of water. I aim to get 3L of water a day! (Or half my body weight in ounces.) Sometimes, I put newspaper rubber bands around my water bottle to track how much I’ve drank.
From having an appointment with my doctor, I also learned that water is critical for absorbing nutrition. I invest A LOT of money into my nutrition and supplements, and at one point I was complaining (being honest!) to my doctor about a bug that took me down for 3 days and my husband for an afternoon. As you can imagine, I was REALLY ticked off about this! I lost three days and my honey was out for 4-5 hours? So I brought this up to my doctor and said, “What is going on in my labs for this to be happening.” And we went over my labs and she said, “Helen, it’s your water. Your water needs to increase to absorb nutrition.”
Oh! Here I was paying all this money for supplements and hormone support and care – and I wasn’t drinking enough water.
#4: Night Owl Spouse
I don’t know how it happened, but I married a major night owl. I honestly don’t know how we dated for 2 years and I didn’t realize this.
While I’ve tried to keep the TV totally out of our bedroom, that hasn’t really worked. So, instead, we have an agreement that after around 7 or so he watches TV in the family room.
#5: “This is the Best Place for Me to Be at This Time”
Finally, I wanted to share this affirmation or mental message that has really helped me. Sometimes, when I’m at the gym, or on my daily walk, or doing what needs to be done to take care of my health – I’ll feel guilty for not being at home or doing something else.
But I’ll tell myself, “This is the best place for me to be at this time.” Because after all, there’s nowhere more important to be than taking care of myself for myself.
I encourage you to go over this article and see if there are any experiments YOU can run for yourself, or if there are things you want to be sure to ask your healthcare provider about! As always, you can always connect with me on Instagram, at @pivotyourlife.
Cheering you on,
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