Something that has been very apparent over the past decade is that while many of us know what we should be doing to properly support our mind, body, and spirit, sometimes we go through periods that make it almost impossible to actually meet all of the ideals. Sometimes health is a BIG priority but circumstances can make it difficult to execute everything we want to be doing.
I’ve taught hundreds of people how to keep balance and thrive in their health come hell or high water. It’s something that I get to practice pretty regularly myself too. One of the biggest learning experiences I’ve had in this was in spring 2015 when I drove down the east coast.
I knew going into it that it was going to take a toll on my health. That it was going to be pushing the envelope and I would more than likely be returning home in pretty rough shape. That I’d be pushing myself harder than I’ve pushed myself since first getting sick. But I wanted to not only prove to myself that I could do it, but also felt obligated since the biggest reason I am physically able to do it is because I’ve been able to manage my health naturally with minimal to no medical intervention.
So I spent a fair amount of my driving time that trip thinking of the best way to stay healthy when in survival mode. You know what I mean, those times where the train is going full speed ahead and we just have to make it through. Those times when taking the time to make big changes is virtually impossible.
That spring, I found myself telling my husband that I’d love to have a mental breakdown, but there just wasn’t time for it! That is what I mean when I say “survival mode”. So I’m going to share with you some of the things that I have found help a TON when going through a survival mode period. Some were things I planned for, some I learned the hard way and had to adjust to.
- Eat for nutrition – This is huge. HUGE. While going through physical and mental stress, our bodies need every ounce of help it can get. I pack 95% of what I eat when I travel and it not only saves a ton of time and money, but it also saves my hiney when the unplanned occurred with my health. Of course there are times that eating for comfort or pleasure sounds very appealing, but it’s not the time nor the place.
Stay Hydrated – I am all about efficiency and I know people who actually limit their fluid during driving trips to cut down on stops. DON’T DO IT! Every part of our body needs water to function. This is one I have to be extra cautious with since with dysautonomia, my body doesn’t actually absorb water as it should and I have to take in extra sodium and other minerals for my body to use it. There was one time I had to pause and stay in a motel due to dehydration since I was only getting in about 3% of the sodium I needed even though I was drinking TONS of water. This leads me to…
- Listen to YOUR Body – You should know your body better than anyone else in the world. Make sure to be in tune to what you need to maintain your health. This the time to stick to what you know works for you. A prime example is that I am supposed to take in about 10 GRAMS of sodium a day. It sounds NUTS to anyone who doesn’t know much about the condition I have. I am not keen on it, but my levels are low even with that intake. The suggestions made by my neurologist would be appalling to anyone who knows anything about healthy eating OR nutrition. I am always trying new ways to stay properly hydrated in the healthiest way possible, however, while in survival mode is not a time to experiment. Bottom line, seriously, know your body and the signals it gives you when things are out of whack.
- Get Enough Rest – Another huge one. Obviously, it is ideal to sleep a full 8 hours, but sometimes it just isn’t possible, so make sure to get as close as you can. During these times, if I have to choose between getting more rest and showering, I sleep. If I don’t get enough rest and sleep, I have no business being in humanity and not even sure I still speak coherently.
- Get Centered – Even if it is briefly, take time to get grounded, centered, and connected. My life can easily pull me in a million different directions, but taking even a few minutes to let everything go and become centered always helps save so much more time than I spend on it! It helps on all levels; mind, body, and spirit. I usually wear mala when life is nuts to remind me to take the time to meditate and become centered every opportunity I have.
Plan Ahead – Be prepared for the unexpected. I always try to prepare for the worst case scenario and hope for the best. Sometimes this can be difficult, but if at all possible, this can make a world of difference when it comes to your health, stress level, and sanity. Luckily I haven’t had to use many of my “Plan B”s at all, but there were a couple times where I did. I was prepared for what to do if I ran into car trouble, cancellations, GPS failure, credit/debit card loss or issues, health issues, and a handful of other things. I am pretty good at rolling with the punches, but in my life, when it rains, it usually pours and being prepared always helps!
- Have Support – Both emotional and physical. You had better bet I bring oils that support my immune system, my emotions, and my overall health and every chance that I have (and have phone service) I am on the phone with friends and family members. Being in survival mode can be taxing both emotionally and physically, good support and debriefing are absolutely necessary!
- Re-Evaluate Your Plan of Action – Have an end point or change directions. Going full speed too long can not only lead to BIG health problems, but also burnout. Sometimes we know beforehand that it’s coming, like when I travel or have a big event, a student during finals week, or having a huge project at work, but sometimes it comes in other forms like an unexpected life event. They are things that we have to get through, know what pace you can realistic maintain while going through. My cross-country drive was huge sprint for me, but I knew that I could rest and recover at the end. That isn’t always the case. Know what you have to work with and be realistic. We are only given one body and we all deserve to thrive!
***If you are reading this and have POTS, EDS, and/or dysautonomia, I knowingly made the decision to push the limits and while I manage everything holistically (with the rare exception of saline infusions before physically taxing excursions), I do work with my medical team in planning. I personally would never recommend doing anything like this without consulting with your managing doctor and creating a plan of action. (I did have the opportunity to start traveling in the fall of 2014 but chose not to due to my health not being fully under control at that time.)***
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