By Carla Schick
Chronic illness knows how to take its toll on the body, mind and spirit. It thinks that it has the ability to rob people of life, enjoyment, happiness and security. And, it seems to forget that it’s not wanted - even though it was never given an invitation to ravage the temple that is the human body. Those who live with immune globulin (IG)-treated diseases know exactly what chronic illness does to the body, mind and spirit. It can become a huge burden, oftentimes too heavy to bear.
When it all becomes too much, that’s when you know you’re ready for a time out - a chance to allow your mind and body to rejuvenate. To rejuvenate means to make young again, to restore to a former state. Living with a chronic illness will not allow you to return to a time when you may not have been ill, or at least not as ill are you may be now. But there are many types of rejuvenation. Rejuvenation can simply mean to refresh, spruce up, revive or just step outside of your normal routine. I do a little of this myself every now and then. For instance, I recently had the opportunity take a very nice, short vacation to Santa Barbara, Calif. While I was visiting, I enjoyed the amazing ocean views, beautiful sunny weather and the occasional Starbucks Frappuccino. When I returned to work, my mind and body felt relaxed and refreshed. Sometimes, it can be a challenge to get away from it all, even if it’s only for a few days. During those times, I dabble in other types of rejuvenation. For example, I’m currently engrossed in the last Meg Cabot Princess Diaries book, I love to watch reruns of The Wild Wild West 1960s TV show, and I find writing to be a great way to organize my thoughts and memories.
Writing is another way to rejuvenate. It has a way of putting things into perspective. Sitting down and composing a poem, stealing a few minutes to scribble in your journal, or maintaining a blog so that you can share your experiences with other patients and caregivers are all great ways to vent. Ladies have found more luxuriant ways of relaxing their minds and bodies by getting manicures, pedicures, visiting the tanning salon or having their hair colored and highlighted to perfection. These methods of rejuvenation may be superficial and temporary, but if they make you feel prettier, relaxed and normal for a time, there’s nothing wrong with that.
Music is another way to slow down the mind and enliven the spirit. If your only chance to listen to your favorite song is when you’re driving home from your IG infusion, doctor’s appointment or work, crank up that radio and sing your heart out! Music releases endorphins in the brain, so don’t be surprised if you feel a little better after you’re done singing along to an ELO track. Another way to get that same endorphin high is to play an instrument, instead of only listening to it. Strum your guitar, tickle your piano or blow your trumpet like there’s no Chris Botti.
Of course, there is the completely and totally free option for rejuvenation that doesn’t take any effort at all: the old-fashioned nap. There’s nothing like a 15- or 30-minute power nap to revive your tired constitution.
There are so many ways to enjoy a little rejuvenation, whether it’s a three-minute song or a three-day vacation. How do you rejuvenate your mind and body?