Helping women with chronic illnesses
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Down The Drain…

While I generally strive to focus my energy on things like gratitude, positive energy, and moving forward… there are times when I fill like my energy has just gone down the drain.


My blog post titles are generally a bit cheerier than today’s but the fact is that I am exhausted right now. Some days are like that. For several days now, I have wanted to write a blog post. However, I haven’t been able to summon up the energy until now.

Yesterday, I spent most of the day in bed. After having woken up with a migraine, I went back to bed shortly after I got up. My body was telling me in no uncertain terms to rest. So, I listened to my body.

This time of year saps my energy because the cold weather exacerbates my fibromyalgia. So, that is a factor in my drained energy too.

The altered schedule and additional responsibilities associated with the holidays are certainly a factor in how drained I am also.

How about you? Do you feel drained? Is your energy level lower than you would like it to be?



When your energy is drained, how do you rejuvenate?

Do you get extra sleep?


Do you listen to music? (Regular readers here know that the music that helps me the most when I need healing is that of Tori Amos). Whatever type of music you like, is it as powerful for you as it is for me?


Do you take a hot bath?


What do you do when you are feeling drained? What lifts your energy? Are you like me where a hot bath can help or make matters worse depending on just how low your energy level is? Are there times where you feel too dizzy or exhausted to take a hot bath? Are there other times where a hot bath makes you feel much better?

Other than getting additional rest, listening to music, and taking a hot bath… what activities are helpful to you? I would love to hear your feedback. What works for one person may not work best for another. However, I think it can be helpful to share coping strategies. Please share some of your coping skills.

What is in your bag of tricks?


This post was written by Jeanne at http://chronichealing.com. Copyright © Jeanne — chronichealing.com. All rights reserved.


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Reading: Down The Drain…

18 comments

1 AmandaNo Gravatar { 01.05.11 at 12:37 pm }

I feel far more drained in the winter months than the summer months, which I attribute to feeling cold and not getting enough sunlight… I’m not a sun worshipper at all, but being able to go for a walk, seeing the blue sky, green fields and colourful flowers help my energy levels so much. I also find it much easier to get up in the morning when it is lighter!

I find a hot bath does wonders for me, in fact when I had labyrinthitis it was the *only* thing that would help make me feel better. I’m not sure it really rejuvenates me though, as I am usually quite hot and sleepy after one!

I hate having no energy, as being active generally makes me feel better and unless my lack of energy is caused by ill health, I have found no better cure for getting myself going again than actually just getting up and doing it… sometimes the longer I sit, lay in bed or rest on the sofa, the worse I feel. But when I really do need to rest, I try to occupy my mind by reading, watching a favourite film or playing some music to take my mind off the boredom of simply waiting until I feel better, because that way I tense up less and heal quicker.

I’m sorry to hear you’re feeling so drained right now, Jeanne. I do hope that you feel much more energised soon

xx
.-= Amanda´s last blog ..Endo Topics – Your Thoughts =-.

2 Laura HegfieldNo Gravatar { 01.05.11 at 1:05 pm }

Several things help me…
1. sitting up and looking out the window, picking up my camera and framing something that delights me with the lens.
2. Meditation…particularly metta practice… offering myself lovingkindness first then working out in ripples toward others.
3. Breath work (alternate nostril breathing is energizing)
4. Gratitude…making a list in my mind/heart for all that I am grateful for in this life. There is so MUCH!
5. Praying for others to heal…this heals me in turn.
5. And this is most important!!!! Accepting that some days are just low energy days and that that’s okay. It is my reality…so just resting in this awareness without judging my body harshly…being grateful for all that functions properly despite illness and the bone tired fatigue it creates.
.-= Laura Hegfield´s last blog ..Time Release =-.

3 RoseNo Gravatar { 01.05.11 at 3:39 pm }

I have found that light yoga helps, but sometimes just laying still on the couch and watching TV is all I can handle (on the really bad days). Also reminding myself that it’s a passing feeling/circumstance and that it won’t be like this forever. Having some down time really helps me to appreciate the times when I do have energy. I’m very, very lucky that my symptoms have improved significantly over the last year, but I still have bad days now and then, and I try to take it as a reminder to take care of my own needs before everyone else’s…. which is really difficult sometimes! ;-)

4 Jenny H.No Gravatar { 01.05.11 at 4:21 pm }

The lack of sunlight in the winter play a big role in my winter fatigue (and “winter blues” for some people).
I tend to sleep when I can but that’s about it. Sometimes a brisk walk helps me because fresh air tends to wake me up. If I’m just tired but not in pain or anything cooking a new recipe always puts me in a more excited mood…especially if it has ingredients that “smell happy”.
.-= Jenny H.´s last blog ..Can I just crawl back under the covers Please =-.

5 AvivaNo Gravatar { 01.05.11 at 4:49 pm }

Jeanne,

I try to have stay-at-home days, where I don’t get out of my jammies. I sleep late, I take naps, I try to hold onto my limited energy for those couple hours between my family’s arrival home and my daughter’s bedtime.

Things I try to avoid when I’m at really low energy:
—Getting online. I get online to check email really quick, and next thing I know, I’ve been sucked into the Facebook vortex and it’s three hours later. I enjoy FB while I’m doing it, but it definitely doesn’t help rejuvenate me, and I end up more tired afterwards.

—I always have a collection of DVDs waiting to be watched that I’ve borrowed from the library. But I’ve learned not to watch movies that get my adrenaline pumping, like a thriller, because I discover when it’s over that I’m just even more exhausted! Romcoms? Those are usually helpful.

–I avoid the telephone, which also can be an energy suck for me. (I’m an introvert. I suspect that would be different for someone more extroverted than I am.)

When I feel really cruddy, sometimes the only thing I can do besides sleep is read. (Although even that can be complicated on days when it hurts too much to hold a book. But magazines are easy to prop up open.)

Aviva
.-= Aviva´s last blog ..Are You A Patient or Medical Blogger Consider Volunteering For PFAM in 2011! =-.

6 JennNo Gravatar { 01.05.11 at 6:32 pm }

First of all, I kid you not, I’ve been working on my own “down the drain” post. Too funny! We are on the same wavelength. :)

My bag-o-tricks has similar items. Just the right song or album can help me rejuvenate or keep me company while I recuperate.

Hot baths (I like ‘em almost scorching) often ease my weary body & mind. But sometimes I can tell a hot bath will be too draining & know to try something else.

I relaxing foot massage never hurts, but it’s not quite the same to give one to yourself, so this one requires help from my husband.

Sometimes, all I can think to do is curl in my pjs, nestled in the cocoon of my fuzzy blanket, & watch a movie. Netflix is great for finding a flick to coincide with my mood (with the bonus of not having to leave the house). I might choose a comedy & try to laugh back some energy or a sappy movie so I can shed some tears. Either way, it tricks me into laying down & resting.

I have learned to try to be gentle with myself during these times. Feeling guilty about being low energy just sucks more of my energy.

I hope you are feeling better soon Jeanne.
.-= Jenn´s last blog ..NOW WE WAIT =-.

7 EndochickNo Gravatar { 01.05.11 at 9:37 pm }

First off… I want both that bed and that tub you pictured!

With that said, I hope you getting feeling less drained soon. I had been feeling rather drained the other day. Stress sucks. When I get that way, music and sleep are my only friends – besides you :) Talking to you always cheers me up.
.-= Endochick´s last blog ..Happy New Year! =-.

8 AnnieNo Gravatar { 01.05.11 at 9:58 pm }

Sorry you’re feeling drained Jeanne. Me too. I’ve been a lazy slacker lately. The housekeeping isn’t up to my usual standards and I sleep a lot. I’m pretty much a hermit and I use paper plates most nights for dinner. That’s my strategy – just stop juggling so many balls and who cares that I’m not impressing anyone? So many things fall by the wayside, but for now that’s how it has to be. Oh, and like you, I’ve also indulged in a bit of Tori lately :)
.-= Annie´s last blog ..A Merrier Christmas =-.

9 JeanneNo Gravatar { 01.06.11 at 2:34 am }

Amanda:

Like you, I am more drained in the winter months than the summer ones. I think cold temps and less sunlight are definitely factors. I’m not a sun worshiper at all either but getting fresh air and enjoying nature make a difference for many people, I think. It’s amazing what a difference sunlight makes!

What a hot bath does for me depends a great deal on how I am doing at the outset. Sometimes it wears me out. Sometimes it makes me feel better. Time of day matters too. Hot baths at night tend to make me hot and sleepy.

I have to really be careful not to be too active. Otherwise, I take my energy levels to dangerous lows.

If I sleep too long, my fibromyalgia pain can be worsened because I wake up stiff.

Overall, though, I feel better if I restrain myself from doing all of the things my brain wants me to do. (My brain sometimes forgets just how sick I am).

Yes, books and movies can be a big help. For me, music is less about avoiding boredom than it is about helping with regulating my mood and, literally, healing. Music heals me. I cannot remember the last time I was bored. It feels to me like there are never enough hours in the day and I can never get “caught up”.

It’ll get better. I just need to pace myself and be patient. Thanks! xo

Laura:

Wow! A whole list… cool!

1) Enjoying the view and taking photos are both great ideas.
2) Meditation is an excellent suggestion! My husband and I took a mindfulness meditation class from my acupuncturist a few years back and it was really interesting.
3) Thank you for reminding me of the alternate nostril breathing. I haven’t done that in a long time.
4) Gratitude is a great one! There really is so MUCH!
5) Helping others helps the helper. Research studies have shown this to be true.
6) Absolutely. Some days are low energy days and that is OK. This is a great way to put it… “being grateful for all that functions properly despite illness and the bone tired fatigue it creates”.

Great list, Laura!

Rose:

That is awesome that you can tolerate yoga. I tried many, many times but my body was unable to handle it. It set off my fibromyalgia really badly every time. I’m so glad it helps you, though. I know that it helps many people. That’s great!

Couch TV can be helpful too. Good point that a passing feeling/circumstance (even with chronic illnesses) won’t be like that forever. Most of these chronic illnesses go through flare-ups and some have periods of remission between the storms. The down time really does help one appreciate the higher-energy times, doesn’t it? I’m glad your symptoms have improved significantly over the last year. That’s great! Yes, flare-ups can remind us to focus on self-care… which is so important. (Yes, it can be difficult). ;)

Jenny:

Another set of points for the benefits of sunlight. ;) I know people who have seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and it can be really serious. As Rose mentioned elsewhere, it can be worthwhile for one to ask a primary care physician or GP to order a simple blood test to check Vitamin D levels. (Mine was low recently and now I’m taking Vitamin D).

Sleep helps me too. A brisk walk used to be awesome but is less so now that I have peripheral neuropathy. My feet aren’t what they used to be. I’m glad that helps you though.

Bravo to you for mustering the energy to cook when you’re feeling drained. I can honestly think of nothing I’d want to do less when I’m drained than cook. (I am not a good cook at all). ;)

Aviva:

Like you, I schedule stay-at-home days and space out doctor’s appointments, errands, etc. I need those quieter days to build up my energy to then handle the “running around/driving a great deal” days.

- For me, going online can go either way but it tends to boost my energy more often than draining it. However, I certainly can relate to either scenario. I’m glad you know what works for you. I know all about the Facebook vortex. I hear you! ;) Overdoing Facebook time can be depleting.

- We borrow DVDs from the library a lot too. We don’t get dish or cable (they long ago became unaffordable because we needed the money to pay medical bills). What’s a romcom? Romantic comedy?

- I can go either way on this one. Some calls are definitely draining. Other times, I’d rather talk on the phone than type messages. I type enough! So, it depends for me. I’m glad you’ve identified what works best for you.

- Yes, reading can definitely be helpful. As you said, sometimes simply holding the book up can be too much. Magazines are better in those cases. (For me, I just need to be sure the magazines don’t have perfume inserts)!

Jenn:

That is too funny that you were working on a “down the drain” post at the same time I was! Yes, we are on the same wavelength! Great minds think alike. ;)

Yes, music is so powerful!

I used to like really hot baths but in the past few years I get very dizzy if the water is too hot. Even if I am conservative on the temperature, I often deal with dizziness from baths and showers. Yes, a hot bath can be draining. It really depends.

Hmm. I think I need to have your husband talk to my husband about the foot massages. LOL

Yes, PJs with a blanket and a movie can help a lot. I hunt for comedies at the library first (laughter is the best medicine) and if I can’t find that, I get something else.

I agree that guilt only makes matters worse.

It’ll pass. I am just ready for an energy boost.

Endochick:

You’re too funny! I picked those bed and tub photos because they looked relaxing.

Yes, I know you have been drained. :( Stress really does suck energy like a Hoover vacuum, huh?

Music, sleep, and talking with you are very helpful to me too. ;)

Annie:

I’m sorry you’re drained. Sometimes the body just says, “sleep”. There is no law against paper plates. Juggling too many balls can lead to trouble. I stopped worrying about impressing people a long time ago. My priority has to be on my health or everything else falls by the wayside. Sometimes… that is how it has to be. You have a lot going on. Be gentle with yourself. Yes, “Tori time” can make all the difference for me. I know you know what I mean.

~~~

Jeanne

10 Jannie FunsterNo Gravatar { 01.07.11 at 11:42 am }

Do I take a hot bath? Are you freaking kidding?? I take mine with a big bowl of chocolate ice cream and a glass of wine.

Just kidding on the wine part.

It’s beer.

Austin has been so DRY, and the cedar pollen is wreaking havoc with me this year. Had a 24-hour headache, that luckily subsided this morning.

Now, I’m happy and jolly — me again.

Since I only get headaches, I do not need too many tricks to keep me well. I try to focus on my breathing when my head is sore, one breath at a time. It helps a bit.

Fibro SUCKS!!!!!

I wish you warmth, sweetness and pain-free moments now and always.

xoxoxoxo

P.S. I love how creative you are with your photos, Jeanne They always tie in so great with your posts.
.-= Jannie Funster´s last blog ..Thank You- Kind Stranger — in 55 words =-.

11 beautifuleyesNo Gravatar { 01.07.11 at 1:03 pm }

Physically, nothing helps but rest-lying down.
For relieving mental fatigue -sometimes just withdrawing into myself.I can have pretty long conversations with myself ;) .
Watching the rain fall in my garden and the scent of wet earth .

12 JeanneNo Gravatar { 01.07.11 at 2:40 pm }

Jannie:

You always make me laugh, you silly Funster woman. ;)

I don’t think you were kidding.

I’m sorry it has been so dry there but I’m glad your headache is gone.

Yes, Jannie… I think that Jannie = jolly. Jolly Jannie.

Attention to the breath really can help with many things.

Yes, fibromyalgia is an evil illness.

It’s 23 degrees Fahrenheit outside but I’m thankful to be warm in my house. You have sweetness to spare. So, thank you for offering to share from your stash. I guess a Sugar Lady like you has quite a stash of sweetness. (Note to readers: If you are not familiar with Jannie’s music, one of her awesome songs from her first CD is called Sugar Lady. She is currently recording CD #2). Pain-free? What’s that? Hmm. I’m afraid I haven’t had a pain-free moment since I was 13 years old but I will aim for “least pain possible”. How’s that?

Jeanne

xoxoxoxo

P.S. Thank you. Back in the old days (you know… in the caveman/cavewoman era of say circa 2008), I used to blog without pictures. As time goes on I swear I use more and more pictures. Of course, you are the master of blog post pictures.

Welcome beautifuleyes! :

Lying down is one of my favorites when I am trying to cope with energy/illness issues. Sometimes that’s the only thing that really makes me feel better. I’m sorry nothing else helps you physically.

Yes, withdrawing and simply having peaceful quiet can help a great deal. Hey, I think that – truth be told – more people probably have conversations with themselves than we might think. ;) Watching the rain fall can be very relaxing. Yes, simple things like smelling the wet earth can be helpful too.

I’m so glad you stopped by. Having talked with you elsewhere online, it’s nice to have a chance to talk with you here!

~~~

Jeanne

13 StacyNo Gravatar { 01.11.11 at 8:33 pm }

Jeanne,

What a timely post to remind me that I am not alone! Thank you!

I have been feeling sicker than ever before and am so drained that I’m (barely) working and sleeping with nothing else going on.

14 JeanneNo Gravatar { 01.11.11 at 8:37 pm }

Stacy,

You are most definitely not alone.

I’m sorry to hear that you’re feeling sicker than ever before. :(

I’m sending positive energy your way. Hang in there!

Jeanne

15 CassieNo Gravatar { 01.12.11 at 1:16 pm }

Jeanne! How are you? I was going to email but thought I’d check out your blog first. I’m struggling with energy levels as usual too so I thought I’d comment instead :)

I want you to feel better though. I wish there was something I could do to help. Do you eat grains by chance? If so, I wonder if cutting them out would help your fibro or any other auto-immune issues you have…

Anyhoo, hot baths are good and bad. When I’m feeling especially sick, a hot bath feels like it would kill me. Maybe that’s the toxins coming out though? My fiance likes to run me an epsom salt bath when I’m in a flare and last time it was really hot. When I started sweating is when I started feeling horrible. Eventually I could hardly even breathe and had to get out. Other times, when my body isn’t in shut-down mode already, warm baths help ease a lot of the pain. Maybe our bodies can’t handle that type of detox when they’re already under stress…

Other things I do other than listen to music and sit in the tub is to play music. I can get lost in one of Chopin’s Preludes which helps take my mind off the pain or any negative thoughts. Sometimes I write my own stuff on the piano or guitar. The concentration it requires is much like meditation , so for anyone who can’t do the sit-and-be-quiet-meditation, this works great!

On good days I try to dance. Belly dancing is my favorite. It helps get my guts going when they’re having trouble. It hurts my liver but I do it anyway. Sometimes I end up in more pain than when I started but yet I still feel better overall after the exercise. And it gives me an energy boost as long as I take it easy.

I force myself to take my supplements, even when they make me sick. If I don’t take my Omega-3′s and Vitamin D, I’m useless. Vitamin D is SOOO important. How much are you taking Jeanne?

You can take 4000 IU of D-3 a day safely. For anyone with chronic illness like MS, it’s recommended.

Other than that and everything else mentioned, I just constantly remind myself to focus on positive things. Not only does it take my mind away from being sick or feeling crappy, but it motivates me to do something proactive about my low energy level.

Sometimes that includes letting myself relax and enjoy some down time and not feel guilty about it!

I hope you’re feeling better today!
.-= Cassie´s last blog .. =-.

16 CassieNo Gravatar { 01.12.11 at 1:19 pm }

Oh, and about the Vit D supps… I have trouble digesting pretty much anything so I’ve been taking the drops lately instead of caps. I’d recommend getting as many supps as you can this way for people like me with finicky guts and liver issues. I notice a big difference in how my tummy feels when I reduce the amount of pills I swallow a day.
.-= Cassie´s last blog .. =-.

17 Frozen Fibromyalgia — ChronicHealing.com { 01.14.11 at 1:02 am }

[...] I wrote my last post, Down the Drain, I was hoping to be feeling a bit better by now. Realistically, I know that I won’t get [...]

18 JeanneNo Gravatar { 01.20.11 at 11:44 am }

Cassie,

Sorry for the very slow reply. I have been having a very rough time in the last couple of weeks. I’m basically in “survival mode”… which is what I call it when I’m focused on just my “daily functioning tasks”.

I’m glad you stopped by here and I enjoyed checking out your new blog. As you said to me, I say to you… I want you to feel better and I wish there was something I could do to help. I have tried all sorts of special diets. (I don’t mean weight loss diets. I mean special diets for health reasons). Since I have so many different illnesses, it is very difficult to find one “diet” that isn’t in conflict with another one. I have done lots of experimenting. There are definitely some foods that trigger problems for me… especially with the IBS and interstitial cystitis. Cutting out grains did not help me, though. Some of the Traditional Chinese Medicine dietary recommendations that my acupuncturist gave me (that I mentioned on your blog) help me decide what to eat and what not to eat.

I hear you about hot baths being helpful at some times and not at others. Like you, I avoid hot baths when I’m especially sick. The main reason is that if I take a hot bath at a time like that then I will feel faint. Obviously that’s not helpful. Yes, when I get too hot I get nauseous too. Like you said, though, there are other times when it is helpful. Sweating out the toxins is good. I think, for me, I just have to avoid getting the water too hot and decide whether it’s a good time for a bath or not. Sometimes I simply don’t have enough energy to take a bath. Sometimes taking a bath seems akin to climbing Mt. Everest. You mentioned epsom salts. A friend of mine (who has many chronic illnesses) was telling me that she uses epsom salt baths and that her naturopathic doctor suggested doing them to help get toxins out. I thought that was interesting. Like you said, it may be that timing is a factor to be considered when attempting to detox.

Music is so helpful for me too. It’s awesome that you write your own music. That must be an awesome way to get focused.

That’s awesome that you use belly dancing to feel better. I had forgotten that you do that. I’m sorry that it can aggravate your liver, though. :( I’m glad you feel better overall from it but please take it easy. I know you are struggling with your health.

My vitamin D levels tested lower than they should have but they weren’t way low. I have been taking 1,000 IU of Vitamin D3 a day.

The recommendations for how much Vitamin D to take, from what I have seen, are all over the map.

I too try to focus on positive things as much as possible. If I’m going to be in pain and have other nasty symptoms, I would rather not add to my misery by thinking about all of the negatives. So, I try to do the same. Yes, the struggle with low energy levels can be quite a battle.

I agree that down time is essential and can give a fresh perspective. It can also make it easier to tackle problems when one has had a mini-break from them. As you said, it’s important not to let the guilt monster wreck things.

Also, you make a good point about getting supplements in drops when possible. I saw Vitamin D drops at my acupuncturist’s office the other day and the only reason I didn’t buy them is that I still have too many tablets left to buy that. However, when they run out I’ll have to check out the drops.

I wish I could tell you I’m feeling better today but that would not be true. When it takes me 8 days to reply to a blog comment, that’s a pretty bad sign! I hope that you’re feeling better, though, and getting closer to finding some answers as to why you’re so sick!

I am really glad you stopped by. I have missed you and I think about you often.

Take care and I’ll talk with you soon! ;)

Jeanne

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