Thursday, August 11, 2011

What I learned from this illness

cat demonstrating yin yoga twist
So it was last Thursday night, just a week ago, that this UTI set in rather ferociously.  Why? after an interlude of four wonderful infection-free months.  First of all, you never know, as I think it says in the subtitle to this blog.  Still, you can usually find a couple of things you did wrong, which is a kind of comfort, as in, I won't do that again, so that won't happen again.  Well . . .

But my transplant nurse actually said to me, in a non-Western-medical moment, "And don't skip your meditation anymore."  Aha.  I had told her I knew a couple of reasons I became susceptible to this lousy e-coli (which is always lurking in waiting, that's the bad news) - it could be summarized as overactive, overstressed by visiting a very sick friend - and too busy to meditate.  For two days straight.  I don't know what made me such a blithe spirit, but it won't happen again.

It happened that the same day Harvard Health News (a nice website) sent me a list of stress relievers.  Here they are -
  • Get enough sleep. Lack of sound sleep can affect your mood, mental alertness, energy level, and physical health.
  • Exercise. Physical activity alleviates stress and reduces your risk of becoming depressed — and it is good for your all-around health.
  • Learn relaxation techniques. Meditation, progressive muscle relaxation, guided imagery, deep breathing exercises, and yoga are mainstays of stress relief. Your local hospital or community center may offer meditation or yoga classes, or you can learn about these techniques from books or videos.
  • Learn time-management skills. These skills can help you juggle work and family demands.
  • Confront stressful situations head-on. Don’t let stressful situations fester. Hold family problem-solving sessions and use negotiation skills at work.
  • Nurture yourself. Treat yourself to a massage. Truly savor an experience: eat slowly, focusing on each bite of that orange, or soak up the warm rays of the sun or the scent of blooming flowers during a walk outdoors. Take a nap. Enjoy the sounds of music you find calming.
It's kind of wonderful that the scientific minds have become convinced of the value of spiritual practices; and almost amusing that they describe them as "relaxation techniques."  And almost discouraging.  You don't see prayer included in that list - it would obviously seem to demean that practice.  On the other hand, it was by emphasizing secular, physical benefits of meditation that Jon Kabat-Zinn has taught the medical profession to see it as something other than snake oil.  Sleep well.

1 comment:

  1. Okay, so I clicked on this post and bingo- some more good advice! The Harvard Health list gives pointers that we need to follow everyday. We know this but don't always take the time. It is all too easy to get caught up in the every day things UNTIL something extraordinary happens and then isn't it amazing how we can focus on implementing them. Thank you.