I have clutter and I would bet some of you do, too. Clutter and disorganization affect people with chronic pain mentally, and, in many cases, physically.
At the least, clutter causes anxiety, shame, and embarrassment, it saps energy just looking at it and planning how to get rid of it. Clutter also causes depression and steals your ability to focus. Clutter is stressful, you may trip over it and hurt yourself, or get sick from the extra dust mites or bacteria clutter may grow in your home.
The extent of the clutter in my home feels overwhelming. I feel shame and embarrassment and don’t want anyone to see the inside of my home. If I could have two hours a day for a month, alone, and someone to take the bags of stuff away, I think I could get it all done. If only…
The other day I didn’t have much time, only five or ten minutes, but I wanted to declutter something just to get another tiny bit further along in my home project. I began thinking of all the things I could declutter in five or ten minutes and chose a bin in the bathroom. It got me thinking I could write about my problem at that moment. Here are ten things you can declutter in five or ten minutes. Choose one of the following and set a timer. Ready, set, GO!
Your car. Get all the trash out first. Don’t forget your glove box. Get all the old insurance certificates and registrations, and any other things that don’t belong in there. Do you, like me, have an extra tool to get the snow and ice off the car? Why exactly do you need more than one? Unless you have a good reason, get rid of any duplicates.
One shelf in the kitchen pantry or cupboard, or the whole cupboard, if you have time. Look for anything that’s expired and get rid of it. Is there anything on the shelf that you won’t use? Can you donate it to your local food bank? Reorganize the shelf so you can see what’s in there and you can use it.
Kitchen utensil drawer or container. Are there plastic spoons that are partially melted or have seen better days? Do you have stained wooden spoons? Are there any utensils you don’t like? Is there something you thought would be cool or useful and it turns out it’s neither? If it’s not in good condition, throw it away. If it’s in good condition, donate it.
The refrigerator. First, get rid of all the expired food. Do you have time to clean the shelves and cubbies? Arrange things so you can see what you have and eat it. If, like me, you don’t see something, it goes bad, and you have to throw it away.
Kitchen towels. Are there any kitchen towels or dishcloths that should move from the kitchen drawer to the cleaning rag drawer? If they are tattered, that may be where they belong. Are there any to donate, maybe ones that don’t suit your kitchen decor or that someone you don’t like gave to you? Are there kitchen towels that don’t “spark joy” when you take them out of the drawer? You know what to do…donate.
Your sock drawer. Take out all the socks. Check for holes in the heels or toes and get rid of any you won’t be repairing. Also, get rid of any socks that don’t have partners.
Underwear drawer. Are there any undies that are stained or holey? You wouldn’t want to get into an accident wearing those, would you? Get rid of them already!
Medicine cabinet. Get rid of anything expired first. Is there anything in there you know you won’t use? If so, out it goes! Ask your pharmacy the best way to get rid of the medication. You don’t want to dispose of it incorrectly, such as flushing or washing it down the sink. You don’t want the drugs and vitamins to end up in the water supply.
Makeup collection. Is there any expired makeup or makeup product that doesn’t smell right? Into the garbage can it goes. Is there something you know you won’t use? Are you still using that super sparkly neon green eyeshadow from 1982? No? Bye bye, it goes!
Cleaning products. I had a bunch of cleaning products that were half gone and hadn’t been used in ten years or more, probably more. I got rid of them and so should you. If you liked them, you probably would have used them by now.
Okay! How did it go?
What areas did you declutter? How long did it take? Do you have any other ideas on areas to declutter fast? Please, comment below. Thanks for reading!
It has been quite some time since I’ve written, since November. It has been a busy time with trips during the holidays, and some unexpected deaths in my family, a cousin and one of my dogs.
My husband and I, along with our other two dogs, have been actively grieving the loss of my dog, Pearl. She was one of the sweetest dogs I’d ever met, coming to our family on July 9, 2012. She was six years old at the time. And, oh, was she cute! Her hair was so smooth and the little curls made it feel bouncy. Pearl was warm and loving; cuddling and gazing at you were her favorite passtimes. She “spooned” our other dogs, and me. While we slept, she would get behind me and press her belly to my back and her nose into my hair. It was quite comforting, even though she was a dog. Her eyes were gorgeous, dark amber and brown with an indescribable depth. The only way I can describe her eyes are to say they looked like round, polished tigers eye. My sweet girl passed from congestive heart failure on January 2, 2019. She was one month short of 13 years old. I’ve been very sad about her passing. I miss her so much. Though both our dogs miss her, my Yorkshire Terrier seems to miss her the most. She was his adoptive mother, as he was only six months old when we adopted her.
A long time ago, I suffered the death of a significant relationship, a breakup. It ripped the ground right out from under me. My therapist gave me a book, How to Survive the Loss of a Love by Melba Colgrove, Ph.D., Harold H. Bloomfield, M.D., and Peter McWilliams.
I was a bit confused. No one had died, except me – inside. My therapist explained that there are all kinds of losses, death, divorce, loss of a relationship, a belief, a cherished animal, or even a lifestyle.
When I got fibromyalgia, I felt lost and depressed, like all the light had left the Universe, leaving behind pain and fatigue, and dark loneliness. The person I knew as myself had died. I went to see another therapist. I didn’t know what to do to recover some semblance of my life. What my therapist saw was a woman who felt confined to a wheelchair, but no one could see the wheelchair or the fact that my body didn’t work the same as it had before. Those were my therapist’s words. That was it; I had lost the body and the life I’d had just weeks before. She offered me a book I’d read before, How to Survive the Loss of a Love.
If you have chronic pain, you have likely suffered the loss of your lifestyle, your life, your health — your “normal self.” Though you may feel like you have, you haven’t lost who you really are.
It was as if all the bright, shiny and good things about my life had vanished. Never again would I feel joy. My emotional state was a black pit. How would I ever clear away all the darkness?
Through reading the book, and a great amount of work with and without my therapist, I regained my joy and created a new “normal self.” I had always been Type A, driven, ambitious, goal-oriented. Now I didn’t know what goals to strive toward. I couldn’t work. I was stuck in bed most of the day. Just going to the bathroom was a major event. Confusion had drawn around me and my heart like the darkness of a closed tomb.
When we are amid grief, our body and mind start a natural repairing process, but in our culture, we tend to fight such things. We put on the face of “oh, no, I’m fine.” As we speak those words, we know it feels like a lie. We aren’t fine, but we can be fine again. In grief, many things happen to our mind and heart while we are suffering a loss. For example, other than sadness or depression, we may be angry, fearful, apathetic, or pessimistic. We may lose our appetite, hope, ability to sleep or concentrate, or sex drive. We may be more clumsy than usual, drop things, or we may speak or move more slowly.
To recover, or heal, from a loss, there are three natural and necessary parts of the healing process.
Shock, Denial, and Numbness
At this point, you may not want to believe the diagnosis or how you are feeling physically or emotionally. You may think it can’t possibly be true. How can you live like this for the rest of your life?
This is the time to concentrate on survival. Three suggestions from the book that helped me the most were the following.
I had to remember that this wouldn’t kill me. I would survive the grief I felt at losing the life and body I’d known.
If you need help, get help right away, as I did. I believe there are times (many times) when we all need a therapist. It’s likely this is one of those times for most of us.
The book suggests reaffirming your beliefs. As a Buddhist, we believe nothing stays the same. Change is inevitable. I read a few books and followed some suggestions for meditation during chronic pain. I found that the places I felt the most pain changed immediately on discovery. I learned that the worst pain isn’t always the worst pain. Even pain changes. That gave me hope!
Fear, Anger, and Depression
This stage is the time to concentrate on mourning and healing. It isn’t the time to resist, this is a time of emotional work. If you step on a nail, you might go to the hospital to get the wound treated, you might even get a tetanus shot. In any case, you have to do something about it or you may interfere with the healing of the wound. An emotional wound is the same as a physical wound. The body has a natural sense of what is needed to heal grief. The three most helpful suggestions are as follows.
There is no hurry. Let nature takes its course and be patient with yourself and the process. There is no timeline for healing grief. There will be steps forward and steps backward. You need to care for yourself as you would a dear friend who needed care. Nothing was more important than self-care for my healing process. I would expect that to be true for you.
Feelings are normal, so expect to have feelings. Feelings are a part of life, and they are definitely part of the healing process. I was sad, fearful, depressed, and pissed off at the world and myself. I had myself a nice, long pity party. I remember lying in bed, tears pouring down my face, running into my ears and hair. I often said out loud, “God if you exist, I will be okay if you let me die in my sleep.” Though I meant it at the time, I wouldn’t have done it myself. One more thing here, don’t allow the expectations of another person to guide any aspect of how you feel.
Pamper yourself and find some ways to reintroduce joy. Go to dinner and a movie with a close friend. Cuddle with your cat or dog. Get a manicure and pedicure. Take a nice bubble bath. Meditate or pray. Move your body in a way you find pleasurable. Buy flowers for your kitchen table. By pampering yourself, you remember the things that bring joy to you and your body.
Understanding, Acceptance, and Moving On
This is the time when you realize you have survived a great loss, you have changed during the healing, you know the emotional pain has lessened. You have a new understanding upon which you can build a new life.
You are now stronger than you ever thought you could be. There is a feeling of empowerment that can come as a result of doing something you never thought you could do. I see it as a yoga teacher when someone goes upside down and into a headstand for the first time. They stand taller, are sporting a huge smile, and the light in their eyes shines like someone put LED bulbs into their eye sockets. Although, healing from a loss takes much longer, emotionally, than the physical demands of going upside down. You may well have that same smile and lit-up eyes. Celebrate your new, stronger, braver, badass self!
Praise yourself for your courage. You are a different person now than you were. It’s time to see what lessons you may have learned from the loss of your “normal life.” One thing you have now is the ability to relate to those suffering the same grief you have suffered. This is a good thing! I promise. For me, I knew I could be a better, more compassionate yoga teacher. When I began doing yoga again, I started moving myself into poses on the bed, then the floor, then I did yoga standing up. I learned how to use blocks, straps, blankets and bolsters and other yoga props in new ways to help my new body do yoga poses. I can almost feel another’s physical pain when I look at a person’s body or face. With that information, I can help a person be comfortable and get the most out of the pose by working with their body and different props. When a person is able to relax into a yoga pose, I see the transformation they feel.
You have the choice of what your new life will be. Try some new hobbies, travel if you feel like it, discover new people, rekindle friendships you may have let dangle in the breeze. Have healthy conversations. Enjoy the freedom to choose, you are in control of how you live this new life. I know there will be limitations. Everyone’s life has some limitations, be it from the country in which you live, financial, or because of illness. But maybe there is a way to work around even those limitations. Try. Ask questions. Go out there and discover your new world.
One thing I would offer from my own experience is to get support from anyone you can find going through a similar trial in life. Those of us with chronic pain are going through something no one else understands. Find someone who does understand. But this support is not to have a bitch session. Yes, talk about how you feel, then move on to something positive. This support is to brainstorm solutions, to share what helps each of you so you may feel better and gain a greater understanding of yourself and your body.
This brings me to the purpose of The Pain Guru and this website. I am here to support you in the grieving process, and, eventually, to assist you in finding support partners, so you don’t feel alone in grieving the loss of the life you once had because you aren’t alone. There are millions of us with chronic pain. In this new world of the internet and social media, we can find one another and support each other in finding new joy in life.
If you need help with chronic pain, disability or some kind of illness that causes pain, let me know. I will soon be doing remote private yoga and meditation sessions over the internet. Help is available.
Here we are, resting on the brink of the holiday season. It’s a time of love, friends, family–and stress. Since this week is Thanksgiving in the U.S., you may be already in the season, with shopping and house guests.
The holiday season is also part of the “cold and flu season,” and the pain and fatigue flare season for those of us with chronic pain and fatigue. Self-help and success guru, Tony Robbins, says the idea of a “cold and flu season” is a myth. The viruses that give us a cold or flu are in the air anyway. The reason so many people get a cold or flu during or right after the holidays is our bodies aren’t able to handle the viral assault. We are too stressed due to the holiday season. Because of the stress, our bodies are depleted and unable to defend themselves from the germs they normally fight off without a problem. I tend to agree with Mr. Robbins.
If we chronic pain and fatigue sufferers allow ourselves to be stressed out and run down, we are prime candidates for flares, as well as a cold or flu. Either will put a damper on holiday fun.
We can remain healthy, prevent flares, and enjoy the season, by placing ourselves at the top of our priority list. I used to say, “There isn’t time to put myself first!” I have learned that when I put myself first I still get everything done and I feel better afterward, physically and mentally.
There are five main ways I care for myself while preparing for and enjoying the holidays. Each of them will help you fight off flares, as well as the cold or flu.
Good sleep is the body’s first defense against nearly any type of assault. Sleeping well is difficult for many people, but there are tricks that help. First, create a sleep routine. Wake up and go to sleep at the same times each day.
At least one hour before bed, turn off all electronic screens. Screens on your phone, television, tablets, and computers emit blue light, which prevent your brain from releasing melatonin, the neurotransmitter which helps you fall asleep.
Light your home with candles or dim the lights. Less light can remind your body it’s late in the day and you will be going to sleep soon.
It helps me relax when I take a warm shower, or bath, a half hour before bed. After my shower or bath, I put lavender essential oil, or a lotion containing the essential oil, on the soles of my feet and a drop on the crown of my head. I sometimes use an aromatherapy diffuser at night with lavender, Roman chamomile, or a different sleep-inducing scent.
Another trick I use is to put Bluetooth headphones in my ears and play sleep hypnosis or yoga nidra videos on YouTube all night. This helps me get to sleep, stay asleep, and go back to sleep if I get up to use the bathroom during the night.
Do your best to get the sleep hours you need. I generally sleep seven or eight hours a night. Sometimes I still need an additional hour or two during the day, so I nap.
Regular exercise gives you extra energy during the day and helps you sleep better at night. You don’t need much, even ten or fifteen minutes a day may help. If you are in the mall, walk a lap or two without stopping.
Play a couple of your favorite songs and dance. Just playing my favorite songs puts me in a good mood, dancing makes it even better!
There are many different kinds of free exercise videos on YouTube, including those with chair yoga and walking in place. If you’ve never looked, you’ll be amazed at what’s available! You don’t have to go to the gym to exercise, unless you want to, of course.
Nutrition And Water
Good nutrition and plenty of water are essential to protect your body from flares and illness. The easiest way to drink all your water is to carry a water bottle with you, no matter where you go, and refill it at any opportunity. I drink around a gallon of water a day. I put colored hair bands on my water bottle so I know how many fills (and ounces) I’ve drunk that day. Herbal teas count toward your water consumption, as do clear soups or bouillon. Fruits and veggies are often high in water content, which also helps flood your body with the water it needs. Bonus: The more water you drink and eat, the fewer wrinkles you will have and the healthier your skin will be, overall. Yes!
Filling your plate with fresh veggies, greens, grains, fruit, and lean protein fills your body with the vitamins and minerals it needs to run its best. Think of “eating a rainbow” every day. Each color of fruit and veggie has different vitamin and mineral content. “Eating a rainbow” ensures you get more nutritional value from your food. Sugars, refined carbohydrates, and processed foods are best in limited quantities. They don’t help you be healthy, release unneeded hormones, make you sleepy, and may actually hinder your body from efficiently using certain nutrients. Be careful how many holiday goodies you eat at the office, unless there is a fruit or veggie tray. I take supplements to ensure I get all the nutrients my body needs to perform at its best. Ask your doctor what types of supplements you may need. Some supplements can interfere with some prescription medication.
Make The Holidays Easier
There are ways you can make the holidays easier. Some ideas include having potlucks instead of cooking the family dinners by yourself. You can assign people to bring an entree, side dish, veggie, or dessert, for example. (I love to delegate!)
Do as much gift wrapping, food prep, baking, rolling out pie dough or cookies while sitting at the kitchen table.
Buy gifts online. If you don’t know what you want to buy, go to the big box stores in person, or simply look online. Once you know what you want, buy it online and get the gifts wrapped and sent to your loved ones. You save time in line at the store, at the post office, and you don’t have to wrap it. You can even order your food online and have your baking goods and spices, for example, sent to your front door! If you want your groceries delivered to your home from your local grocery store, your store may deliver. If not, check the Instacart smartphone app.
You can get your holiday stamps at http://www.usps.gov, along with boxes and other supplies to mail cards and gifts (in the U.S. only, check your country’s mail service).
Relax And Enjoy The Season!
Don’t forget your meditation practice. Have coffee with friends. See a movie. Catch up with family and friends over the phone or email. Skype with someone you haven’t seen in a while. Play Candyland with your kids or grandkids. Make some fun memories. And, no matter what I said about good nutrition, don’t completely deprive yourself. Enjoy some holiday cookies, pie, and festive drinks! Remember, the holidays are for celebrating!
Please comment below. What suggestions will you use to have a healthy, flare-free holiday season? Do you have any ideas of your own to make the season healthy and flare-free?
I wish for you, your family and your friends a joyous holiday season!
I’ve always loved using essential oils, and often put them on myself to help relieve pain and stress. I also use a diffuser daily, in my office to keep me focused but relaxed and while sleeping to alleviate sinus trouble in myself and my dogs. I also rub lavender essential oil on the bottom of my feet and the top of my head to relax and help me sleep. Orange and peppermint essential oils help me wake up and have energy.
Though I use essential oils to relieve pain, I didn’t know that essential oils had been studied with regard to aromatherapy and pain relief. I can’t tell you how excited I am to know this!
We can use essential oils in three ways, by aromatherapy/smelling the oils, by putting it on your body, and by ingesting the oil.
It’s not the smell that affects your body or mood, it’s the chemicals in the plant itself that your body reacts to, whether you smell it, rub it on your body, or eat it. (Please note: not all essential oils can be eaten!) The chemicals can reach the limbic system and, for example, reduce the amount of cortisol in your bloodstream, reduce your heart rate, relieve stress and inflammation, and improve anxiety and depression, all of which can reduce your perception of pain and improve your mood for between thirty minutes and several hours.
Tips For Using Essential Oils
Always use therapeutic grade, 100% essential oils. (Scented candles and perfume oils are not essential oils and are not useful for aromatherapy.) Some good brands are DoTerra and Young Living. There are some other brands available on Amazon you can try. I’ve tried Plant Guru and a couple others, and they were fine, but I wouldn’t ingest them.
Make sure you aren’t allergic to an oil before you use it. If you are unfamiliar with an oil, smell it, then mix a small amount of essential oil and a carrier oil. Place a dab of the mixture in the crook of your elbow and wait at least an hour to be certain you won’t have a reaction to the oil. An allergic reaction may include, but is not limited to, the following: a rash; a hoarse, painful or itchy throat; wheezing or other signs you are having trouble breathing.
If you plan to put an oil on your body, use a carrier oil with all oils but lavender, which can be put directly onto your skin. I use coconut, sweet almond or grapeseed oil for carrier oils. There are others, such as olive oil and sesame oil. On one occasion I used tea tree oil without a carrier and I was burned. That was more than twenty years ago and I still have a scar. Please don’t make my mistake.
To scent the air or linens, you can put some drops of the essential oil in a mister/spray bottle with some water. Shake the bottle and spray away!
Put some drops of oil on a piece of cloth and smell it any time you like.
Make some of your own cleaning products with essential oils. I like lemon or orange essential oil with white vinegar in a spray bottle to clean mirrors and the inside of my refrigerator. I mix baking soda and essential oils to clean the kitchen sink.
There are websites and that tell you how to make your own personal care products. I like to mix equal amounts of white, granulated sugar and baking soda with a few drops of lavender or chamomile essential oils. It’s a wonderful facial scrub! I like to use baking soda with stevia and peppermint oil as an alternative to toothpaste.
I have used frankincense, myrrh and helichrysum, mixed with coconut oil, to help ease the pain in my knees. (I have a torn meniscus in both knees.) I must tell you, though, even though it works, it’s scent isn’t to my liking. But, there are many other mixes. Find some you like.
Some of the oils that may help with pain include, lavender, peppermint, bergamot, cinnamon, geranium, lemongrass, and frankincense, also known as the plant Boswellia, a main ingredient in some natural arthritis pain rubs. There are many others. Each person is different, so you have to be a detective to suss out what works best for you. If essential oils are interesting to you, it can open up a whole new way to live.
Have you ever used essential oils to help with chronic pain? What oils have you used? What has been the effect of using the essential oils? Do you use essential oils now? Would you like to try them?
Let us know how you use essential oils, ask questions, or talk about something completely different in the comments section.
When I first got Fibromyalgia, I felt my body had betrayed me. I gained a ton of weight, I was in terrible pain, my brain wasn’t working, and I had no energy…at all. I hated my body. Then I began to hate myself. I wanted to die, not such that I would do something to cause my death, but if someone were to do it for me, that would have been okay. Something had to change.
I first had to change the way I felt about my body. Negativity, feelings of betrayal, and hate weren’t working for me. It made me even more depressed.
I made a list of all the things my body could still do and the things I could do to feel good. No, I wasn’t running, hiking, or riding my bicycle, like I would before Fibromyalgia. But I could read, watch movies, listen to music, meditate, laugh, taste good food, express love and feel love expressed towards me. I could sit outside and feel the sun on my face.
There were many things my body could do to give me pleasure in my life. These are the things that made life worth living. How could I hate something that could allow me to feel some of the best things in life?
It was then I decided to take advantage of all the things I could do and feel, to highlight them in my mind and downplay all the things I couldn’t do or feel anymore, and the things that hurt. I became determined to get back my ability to take long walks in the forest, to hike with a backpack on my back, to stand strong in a yoga pose for a long hold. I have been able to do all those things, though some with less intensity. It was a long road, but I traveled it. You can travel that road, too. The first step is to make the decision. The second step is to keep asking for help until you get the answers you need.
What has your body done for you lately? Make a list of all the things your body can do for you. Think of all five senses.
Please comment below what you discovered about yourself and your body. How did that make you feel? I wish you and your body great pleasure this week.
Are you like me? Do you want to do everything and help everyone? Before I had chronic pain, saying yes to everything made me burn out and feel resentful. Most of the time I could push myself and do almost everything. With chronic pain, I have to choose which activities and tasks I can do without consequences.
At first, it was difficult to say no. I felt like I was letting people down or not doing my job well. I was exhausted and in extreme pain most all the time. I dreaded picking up the phone. When someone asked for a favor, my heart, even my body, sunk. The feeling of exhaustion set in just thinking about doing one more thing.I knew things couldn’t go on without a change. Because I’ve learned to say no, and when, my life is easier and I have fewer pain and fatigue flares.
The first step is to be clear what your needs and priorities are. My highest priority is my health. I’m going to go out on a very short limb and say your highest priority should be YOUR health, too, and not the needs of anyone else. If you don’t take care of your health, you won’t be effective at taking care of anyone else.
At first, don’t say yes or no. When someone, even yourself, asks, “can you do this for me,” you can say, “I’ll get back to you.” Let some time pass while you think about the request. When you have determined the activity fits your priorities and energy, and you want to do it, say yes. If it doesn’t, be polite and say no. You can say, “I’m sorry, but I need to say no to your request. I have other priorities I need to care for that day.” You don’t have to give a long explanation and you don’t need to feel guilty.
This new you may surprise people, at first. You will be putting up new boundaries and sometimes people like to push back against new boundaries. Hold fast. After a time, people will get used to the new, happier and more energetic, you.
With time, you won’t need to “get back to” anyone, you will know immediately if the activity will fit for you. You will see the advantages of saying no, and you will have the time and energy to say yes to what matters to you.
What are my priorities? Practice, in your journal or with a caring friend, saying, “I’ll get back to you.” Then practice saying no.
How does it feel to do this? Do you have any of your own tips and tricks? Please comment below. I’d love to know about your experiences.