When I was diagnosed with endometriosis last summer, it became my reminder that sometimes I need to slow down and practice self-care. Before this, I had no label for my debilitating pain, so I often tried to “push through it.” Of course, this was really bad advice to give myself, and an even worse way to try to take care of myself.
Although I wouldn’t wish this diagnosis upon anyone, learning that I have endometriosis helped me understand that the pain I was experiencing was real and severe. In some ways, it gave me permission to take better care of myself during an endo flare.
I think of self-care as important self-maintenance for the chronically ill, their caretakers and everyone else between. Self-care is taking the time to acknowledge what your needs are, and doing things for yourself that help improve your well-being (whether physically or mentally).
It took me some time to realize the importance of self-care during an endo flare, but there are several things I have learned that it is OK to do during this time to take care of myself.
5 ways to practice self-care during an endo flare
1. Have a relaxing bath
Draw a warm bath and allow yourself to soak for a least 15 minutes while listening to some relaxing music or reading a good book. I have found that heat can sometimes help with my endo pain, and having a warm bath or shower can help relieve contracted muscles and tension.
For additional relaxation, add your favorite bubble bath or a half cup of Epsom salt, which also can help relax muscles. Epsom salts are high in minerals such as magnesium, which can further help with pain relief with its anti-inflammatory and muscle relaxing properties.
I like to add some Epsom salt with part of a Lush bubble bar or bath bomb. This way I can enjoy the benefits of Epsom salt, while also benefiting from the relaxing fragrances a Lush bath product.
2. Comfort is key
It can be pretty difficult to feel comfortable (or fit into my favorite pair of skinny jeans) during an endo flare. Although I experience some bloating, my biggest issue is heavy bleeding because of several medications I am on for pulmonary hypertension. Because of this, I am stocked up on adorable sweat pants and pajamas that have adjustable or generous waist bands.
Sometimes the pain during the flare can be so bad that I pass out or fall asleep, which is why it is so important to me that I am in comfortable clothing. Being in comfortable clothes makes it easier to rest, sit or lay wherever I am.
Although I currently work part-time from home, I remember the struggles of trying to find office clothing that I could wear comfortably during this time. Leggings with tunics or dresses quickly became my staple, along with extra stretchy jeggings (think denim leggings) that I found at the GAP.
3. Netflix and recharge
Although I try to stay active, it isn’t always possible for me to engage in physical activity when my pain levels are high. It has become important for me to know when it is OK to push myself, and when resting is a necessity.
Don’t feel ashamed to rest up, especially if your body is letting you know that you need to take it easy. Take the day to nap, watch a few episodes from a favorite show on Netflix, read or do whatever else may help you recharge while you take a day to rest.
4. Cancel plans
Even though you might hate doing it, it is OK to cancel plans. Living with endometriosis can cause a tremendous amount of pain and discomfort. This, of course, can make it really difficult to leave the house, or enjoy being social.
Your real friends will understand why you need to reschedule, and wouldn’t want you to push yourself. Chances are they would rather see you when you are feeling well enough to truly enjoy your time together.
5. Pamper yourself
I like to treat myself to something small to help lift my spirits during an endo flare. This might call for finding ways to help you relax, like meditating with some essential oils or treating yourself to a face-mask. It doesn’t have to be elaborate. It can be something as simple as enjoying a small piece of vegan chocolate or having a good cup of tea.
What kind of self-care routines do you practice during an endo flare?
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Note: Endometriosis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Endometriosis News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to endometriosis.