In a society that appears to glorify multitasking, after-hours meetings, excessive screen time and full schedules, it’s more important than ever that everyone finds balance and practices self-care. This is unfortunately often forgotten by many, and neglecting self-care can have serious effects on individual health.
For a patient living with a life-threatening illness, such as idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), the consequences of neglecting self-care can be even more detrimental. Patients often struggle with fatigue, pain and shortness of breath. For most patients, neglecting self-care by not resting, eating well or finding something that brings joy and relaxation, can accelerate their inability to cope with their disease psychologically, socially and emotionally.
Many patients have a strong desire to maintain the lifestyle they had before their diagnosis. This gradually becomes more difficult, and eventually impossible, as the disease progresses. Finding balance and relaxation through self-care is important in helping patients find joy.
Below are some examples of ways that self-care and finding balance can be beneficial to patients psychologically, socially and emotionally while dealing with their disease:
When diagnosed with IPF, a patient’s mind becomes filled with many thoughts and fears, especially around how the disease will impact them and their loved ones. An IPF patient’s mind is always going — thinking about certain elements that might affect their ability to breathe (e.g., weather), about the factors that could have caused their disease or dissecting doctors’ appointments and medical jargon. Slowing the mind through self-care can transform a patient’s thoughts from overwhelming to manageable, or their feelings from negative to positive. Some ideas to help reduce the over-stimulating psychological thoughts of a patient might include adult coloring books, listening to music, watching a television program or crafting.
There aren’t too many things that can make a patient feel more socially isolated than being diagnosed with IPF. It’s an incredibly lonely disease, and not many people can understand what it’s like, which can cause patients to become resentful or angry. Partaking in self-care rituals with friends not only brings joy and relaxation, but it can also help restore a patient’s understanding of the impact of this disease on friends and family members. This helps reduce feelings of social isolation by increasing feelings of connectivity, support and love.
A patient living with IPF experiences a plethora of emotions on a daily basis. Self-care activities often create a space for those emotions to come out which can be comforting. A beautiful example of how self-care can encourage the release of emotions is through art, such as painting or drawing. Once the emotions are released on paper, patients often find it easier to talk about, explain or reflect on what caused those emotions and how to deal with them in future.
Undoubtedly, there are many other benefits to self-care and finding balance not only for patients but also for anyone living in today’s society. The types of self-care that people can practice are also endless.
Do you practice self-care? What do you find to be the most helpful?