Good Days…Bad Days With Maureen Pratt

Good Days…Bad Days With Maureen Pratt

Stress buster: A thankful spirit

posted by mpratt
Image courtesy of graur codrin/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of graur codrin/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

How often do you give thanks each day? I try to sprinkle liberal doses of thanks throughout mine. And, besides the obvious – that thanks is a prayer to God that I am grateful for even the smallest thing in my life – being thankful has helped me appreciate the good and sweep away stress from the difficult.

Am I thankful for my illnesses? Praising the pain? Well, not exactly. Like you, I’m sure, I’d rather not live with lupus and all the other things that are a constant challenge health-wise. But I am thankful for the care I receive, the new mornings, the people I’ve met because of my illnesses.  On a good day, too, I’m particularly thankful for the moments where I feel uplifted, renewed, rested, and inspired.

Being thankful helps to approach new and existing challenges with determination, resolve. For example, even in the midst of a crisis (perhaps a new diagnosis), finding reason for thanksgiving – catching something early, formulating a plan with the medical team – brings a breath of hope into the situation and helps balance the tough with the tender love God has for us.

Thanksgiving also allows us to find peace in the middle of a storm of trouble. It enables us to gather our angels and face challenges knowing God is good and His goodness permeates even the most dire of situations.

I mentioned the people I’ve met because of my illness. Truly, these men and women, young and not-so-young, are constant reminders to me that health problems need not be “all bad,” but rather bring with them cause for inspiration, encouragement and, yes, thanks.

If we are open to recognizing them.

Blessings for the day,

Maureen

Chronic Pain Coping: Naming Your Pain

posted by mpratt

Maureen Pratt Author PicOkay, I confess to a bit of juvenile fun. Plants, fish, even the hummingbird that visits each year – I have a name for them all. Even if it is “Silly” or “Birdie,” each flitting, swimming, and growing thing gets some sort of name. And with that name, comes a sort of funny familiarity that makes “bad” days brighter. So, what about naming our pain?

A few years ago, I wrote an article about the importance of laughter and humor when living with chronic health conditions. One person I interviewed talked about enduring a very long hospital stay. When he was finally able to walk the halls, he had to still take along his IV drip (on wheels). Not an easy sight, I’m sure, but he handled it masterfully, putting a hat and gown on the IV pole and introducing it to the nurses on the floor as his “girlfriend.” Talk about bringing light to a dark place! No one could look pityingly on him and his health battle when he faced it with such humor.

Another funny story that I’ve come across is of a woman doubled over with “Arthur-itis” – a name that immediately takes the anonymity and some of the seriousness off of her mood.

Some might accuse us of “sugarcoating” our conditions, or perhaps even denying they exist. But I’ve found that, the more we find creative ways to deal with the illness or pain that lives within us, the more we’ll be able to rise above it and truly be as God intends for us to be – light for the world.

Now, what will you name your pain?

Blessings for the day,

Maureen

Stress buster: The stress within

posted by mpratt

Maureen Pratt Author PicSo often, we talk about stress as something that comes to us from without. Traffic, work, a new diagnosis, disappointment over how a loved one reacts to our illness, or other factors happen outside of us and can stir up a mound of stress that has all sorts of ill effects for us and our lives.

But, there’s also stress that is generated within us, and it, too can have a negative impact – if we allow it to. How we react to external stresses, how we set our expectations, how we view our lives with illness, and even the “food,” spiritual and physical that we feed ourselves with can bring on stress. Why, it can even be stressful to think we are stressing ourselves! :)

Self-awareness is a huge key to understanding what stresses we cultivate internally, and how we can ease them or even eradicate them. If we listen to ourselves and truly hear the negative thoughts and language we use, we can begin to stop the flow of stress-inducing words and replace them with more positive ones.

If we recognize negative things that we do that work against our emotional, physical and spiritual health, we can put the brakes on them, too, and move into a more nurturing and health-filled way of life.

Worry is a huge stressor in anyone’s life, and as people with serious health conditions, we probably worry more than most. When I catch myself worrying, I try to turn it over to God in prayer immediately. Sometimes, I feel as if we play a game of catch, God and I, where I lift up my worries to Him, and then moments later they’re back in my proverbial baseball glove only to be tossed back up to Him. But after a few  moments of “catch,” I realize what I’m doing and heave those worries heavenward and don’t take ‘em back. It’s very freeing – and de-stressing!

We cannot do without stress (unfortunately). But the more aware we are, the more we’ll be able to take control of some of the stress that builds up within, and be all the stronger to withstand the stress without.

Blessings for the day,

Maureen

Stress buster: Tips for those long waits in doctors’ offices

posted by mpratt

Maureen Pratt Author PicOooh, they’re getting longer, not shorter, those waits in doctors’ offices. And, if you’ve exhausted all those rat-eared magazines and examined drab artwork long enough, you’re probably feeling impatient, patient. Edgy, perhaps. Or, even angry.

But, wait! (as if you want to do more of this…)

The more impatient, angry, and irritated you become, the more stress you’re bringing upon yourself. And, we all know what stress can do to us and our chronic illnesses and pain, and it’s nothing good.

So, here’s what I do when the minutes drag into hours:

1) I walk.  Yup, sitting for hours defeats the purpose of trying to stay in shape. If I know I’ll be last in a long string of patients, I punctuate my sitting time with walking, even pacing a little.

2) I work a puzzle…or five. During my “non-doctor days,” I save crossword puzzles from my newspaper. On appointment days, I grab a stack of them and dive in while I’m waiting. Keeps my mind from turning to mush under those oh-so-glaring fluorescents.

3) I make lists. For a person with intermittent, lupus-induced brain fog, lists are a must. As I wait, I refresh my memory about the lists I’ve made and begin new ones. Just the feeling of being organized helps with a better sense of control over a life that has so many parts that are not within my control.

4) I read Scripture and pray. A doctor’s office is a perfect place to talk with God – and a good place, too, to read an reread passages from Scripture. I especially like to choose uplifting passages that will enhance my sense of calm and defuse the irritation that comes with waiting.

Some people I know also take their iPads or tablets and watch their favorite comedies or read from a selection of ebooks. Whatever the activity, make it positive, something that helps you either physically, life-style-wise or spiritually. The time won’t seem as long, and you’ll come away with at least a part of your day in the “good” column!

Blessings for the day,

Maureen

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