Psychological and Emotional Self-Care with Health Storylines

This is a blog post by Nikki Albert on Brainless Blogger

Self-care is something I have been focusing a great deal on lately. Because I didn't in the past. Just ignored it and tried to push through the pain at the exclusion of my own well-being. And that didn't work. So I know I have to focus on my well-being. I have been doing several things for this.

  1. I have been meditating- this may or may not help with pain but it definitely is helping me with stress. I find it very relaxing. Sort of feel all the tension ease from me. 
  2. Writing a gratitude journal- This is said to help with mood and I have depression so I can use all the mood boosts I can get. I write down three things I am grateful a day, or minimal three times a week. Helps the mind look and reflect on positive aspects of the day rather than focusing on the negatives and the pain.
  3. Writing one accomplishment I made that day... small or large. - I can't always accomplish a lot, but I can do a little. And celebrating those little things makes me happy. Makes me feel productive. And feel better about my day.
  4. Writing one small goal for the next day. - I write down just one small thing I want to do the next day. Gives me something to plan for. Motivate myself to do that one thing. I may do more or maybe not. But I will motivate myself to do that one thing. 
  5. Then keeping track of my mood, pain score and symptoms. This just helps with awareness of where my well-being is at so I know if I need to take it easy and pace myself more through bad pain stretches.
  6. Exercising a small amount on my days off. This is also a mood thing. It is just to get moving and doing something and is said to help with mood. Also pain, but I don't feel that effect as of yet, but that is the theory.
  7. Doing a leisure activity on my day off that I enjoy for the sake of enjoyment Very important to self care is to have balance and actually do things for myself. Not push myself and always do things I feel I Need to do but also things I want to do and enjoy. For overall well-being, joy and happiness this should never be overlooked.
  8. Relaxation breathing whenever I can When I feel stressed or in a lot of pain I will do a few minutes of relaxation breathing to calm my body down.
  9. Seeing my psychologist. I of course see my psychologist to help maintain a healthy emotional well-being and treatment.

Health Storylines is an app that you can use to track your medication, symptoms, appointments, mood and have a journal in there as well. Health storylines app at Apple free download or Google Play and I have been checking out and has some features on it that help me with my emotional and psychological self-care goals specifically. 

One is the Daily Mood. It tracks your daily mood. And I need to keep aware of where my mood is at so I know what sort of self-care I need to manage that mood. High pain and depressed means a lot different than in pain and content. One I am coping well, the other I am not and needs to be handled a lot differently. You an track them and see how pain levels are affecting moods. How events are affecting moods. How you are coping over time with depression, as I am. You choose the mood, then reflect on the reason for that mood. Today for me it was Frustrating because I had to work in a lot of pain on very little sleep. It made for a long, extremely frustrating day.

The other is My Journal. I am currently just using a notebook for my journal for the gratitude, goal and accomplishments; it is a little messy and off in my computer room so not easily accessible. I find I forget to write in it because at the time something I am grateful occurs to me during the day... well I have to wait until I get home to write about it. Or I simply forget to write about it if I don't go in that room at night. Apps just have more ease of functionality for me. I can use them at lunch at work and write in there something that occurs to me then. I always have my phone on me. It is why I use an app to track pain, which this one has a feature for as well (symptom tracker which I have been utilizing for pain and nausea).

Journaling is something that I do quite a bit of to help with my psychological well being. I find writing to a way to express myself. One I get it on paper I don't ruminate on it as much. And it is cathartic as well. Gets the emotions out of paper in a more productive and healthy manner. The gratitude journal is a fraction of that. It is said to help with mood because you are focusing on three specific positive things that happened to you. But just writing about something you felt good about accomplishing. Working out a problem. Setting a goal. Thinking through some negative thoughts with more realistic thoughts. All these are important to me. I think better on paper.

Knowing your mood, also means you can know when to journal about certain things. If I am depressed I might want to journal about my thoughts. What negative thoughts are occurring to me and what more realistic thought to replace that with. Why I am having that thought. What stressor is bringing it out. And what I should do to help with it.

This journal is set with categories to give you ideas:

  • reflection on my condition today
  • people I am thankful for today -great for a gratitude entry.
  • accomplishment that made me feel good today- this will work for my daily accomplishment
  • insights I have gained about myself today
  • and of course 'write anything!'

It is sorted by days so you can go back and read what you wrote every day. And write under more than on category if you want. Like I write a general entry and then write my accomplishments. I tend to use the reflection on my condition a lot it seems. But really do try to use the accomplishment and people I am thankful for. 

I have noticed by tracking my symptoms on the app as well, that there is a correlation between low mood days, high pain and the high impact it has on my day... which is to be expected, but I can see it plain as day on the tracker. On moderate pain days my mood is more positive and the impact number is always lower. Doesn't even take that much of a lower pain amount. Clearly the days my mood and the higher the impact are the days I need to engage in more self care. Bring out the big guns!

Having tools to help with our self-care can be beneficial. I know I have barriers to my self-care that can be an issue. I just sometimes feel I Need to be productive all the time. And feel guilty when I rest. Definitely feel guilty when I have no motivation and rest too much due to my depression. So I have to balance out motivating myself with things that interest me, such as my hobby time, light chores or exercise and such to help with my depression to making sure I pace myself, rest and stay within my limits to manage my pain condition. I have apps for meditation. Then this app for more integrative things for my self-care like managing my mood, my journaling, my symptoms and a routine builder for my exercise and such. (as well as the other features I also use) to help me know where I am at mentally, see if there is a pattern with pain and my emotions,  respond to that in my journal and keep to a established routine. And I have other apps to track migraine days in particular. All these together can help us give an idea of what self-care we need and well. And knowing when our pain is high or our mood is low, we need that self-care. We matter. Our health matters. Resting, meditation and balancing time to ourselves vs productive time is all necessary parts of healing and pacing. We should never feel guilty about that. 

I am sure if I remind myself of that enough I will definitely get it into my head one of these days. We matter. Our health matters. We need to do self-care. 

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