Give Yourself Permission to Rest

How many of us feel guilty when we aren’t able to do all that we think we should do?  I don’t think you have to have an illness to have this experience. Whether it’s commitments at work, with your friends, or with yourself, sometimes you just aren’t up for what you have planned.  Most of us tend to cut out what we planned to do for ourselves to not let others down.  But if we don’t take care of ourselves, we won’t be at our best to do our jobs or to be a good friend.  PWNs (People with Narcolepsy) can relate to going out with friends even when we are too tired, and later having almost no recollection of what we talked about or if we even asked appropriate follow up questions or listened to our friends at all.  In these cases, our friends would have been better off if we had stayed home.

We have to learn to accept our limitations. My current challenge is to put a positive spin on it.  I don’t want to say, sorry I can’t I’m too tired. I want to be able to say, “Maybe next time, I already have plans.” If they ask I can explain, “I am having a self care night.  I’m going to soak in the tub, read a book, do some yoga or meditation, and go to bed as early as I want.”  If they are a good friend, they will understand.

Even when travelling, I have to remind myself I can rest. I don’t need to go to every site on the top 15 things to do in Bangkok.  When I was there last week, I honestly didn’t go to a single place on my list.  I had caught a cold, a simple cold. I know if I had to work at a traditional job, I would have gone to work and functioned as well as I could.  But this time, I gave myself permission to rest. I went out and ate steaming hot curry soups and drank delicious tamarind juice.  But I didn’t push myself. I walked around near my accommodation and tried to get a feel for the area. I found a rooftop garden in my hostel and relished the moment.  I drank a ton of water, and just took care of myself. And I have no regrets.

Bangkok will always be there when I am ready to return.  But since I took care of myself, my cold lasted a week instead of a month.   I have always said that because of my narcolepsy, it takes me longer to get over simple illnesses, but now I am learning to help myself heal. The simplest part of that healing is to rest, but to rest without feeling guilty about it.

 

Gratitude

Positive thinking is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to increasing the quality of life you can enjoy while managing your narcolepsy.   Another simple task is to be grateful.  Just take a moment, a least once a day or as many times as you like to match some words with what you are grateful for.  It helps to be specific, instead of just thinking, “Wow, this is great I am glad I’m here.” Try to create a statement like, “I am so grateful the sun is shining right now.  I am thankful for the cool breeze.  I appreciate the person who invited me here today.”  As we get specific with the things we are grateful for, we realize the list can get quite long.  The first few times you try this exercise you may only think of 3 or 4 things that you truly feel appreciative of. But in a matter of weeks or months you will find yourself unable to stop adding to your list!

I won’t pretend to be an expert, so here is where the exercise originates: The Greater Good Science Center

Inspired in Myanmar

I’ve been inspired to start this blog while visiting Yangon, Myanmar.  If it doesn’t sound familiar, it used to be called Burma.  It’s just west of Thailand.  I came here to visit a wonderful friend, and to start a journey through Asia.  I started to realize how amazing it is that even with all that I have been through with Narcolepsy, I’m able to be here today.  I don’t want this blog to be about me though. I want it to be about how YOU can also fulfill your dreams. I use a myriad of coping mechanisms to mitigate the symptoms of narcolepsy. As we all know, there is no cure.  Maybe not all of my alternative remedies are right for you, but I hope you will try some out and see if they can make even the smallest impact on how you feel.

Today I want to talk about the one that sounds the simplest but may be the most difficult thing and that is the power of thinking positively.  It is so important for you to understand that if you think you are going to feel bad, you will.  If you think you cannot do something, you won’t do it.  Over the past couple of years, I have learned that how I think has a HUGE impact on how I feel.  So let’s start small and take a few moments every morning to decide that today is going to be a good day.