The Mind-Body-Spirit Axis: Holistic Flare Tips
Last updated: April 2022
I’ve noticed that my flare ups are 100 times worse when my mind, body, and spirit are not aligned. More pain. More tears. More feeling of a lack of control.
And so, I take the time to get my mind and spirit in order when I’m going through a flare up. Because pain is so all-consuming, and because pain makes me depressed and irritable, I try to make sure that my mind and spirit are also nurtured during a flare. This almost always makes it easier to manage my physical pain and to love my body even though it feels as though it is sabotaging me.
Some of the things I do
Meditate and stay present:
This really helps me to ground myself rather than get lost in the pain. Sometimes when I’m in such pain, the days slip by like an endless dream, all foggy and vague and disconnected.
When I meditate I feel as though I am very present. Even though I still experience the pain while meditating, it gives me the opportunity to connect with myself in the moment and to mark the day with a ritualistic activity. This way, the flare-up doesn’t make me feel as though I’m floating by in a sea of painful days that have no discernible beginning or end.
If meditating is not your style, doing anything that is meditative might help make you feel more present. It also might make you feel as though your day has more meaning and purpose. This can be as simple as breathing in and out, arranging flowers, coloring, stretching with mindfulness, or cooking (while seated!).
Being aware of my feelings:
I like to be aware of my thoughts and feelings so that the flare up doesn’t insidiously sneak up on my mood or emotional state. A few months ago I was in such a horrible flare up. I kept denying how bad it was and kept pushing through with my activities, never letting myself rest.
Obviously, this was not a smart choice. I was anxious. I was angry. And I was resentful of how the world went on around me as I suffered. Finally, I broke down crying. I realized I was holding up all of these emotions inside of myself, and they were wearing me out and making my flare ups so much worse.
Because we all know stress compounds pain, it's better to get ahead of those feelings rather than let them boil and burst. I try to get in touch with my feelings during a flare-up. Maybe I will journal them or simply think about them while I shower or take a bath. Maybe I will identify the emotions I’m feeling and where in my body they show up. For example, I always feel anxiety in my chest. I always feel sadness in my stomach. Basically, being aware of what you feel, accepting it, and allowing yourself to feel it allows you to move through the feelings and manage them.
Show myself some love:
When I am in a flare up, the last thing I want to do is some sort of drawn-out, extended self-care ritual. It’s hard enough to walk or sit or lay down, let alone light a thousand candles and create an Instagrammable scene.
However, I do think small self-care rituals that let us tend to our bodies in loving and positive ways are crucial. Connecting the mind, the body, and the spirit, I like to do easy things that make me feel good about myself. This might mean applying a face mask in bed and massaging my skin with beautiful serums and oils. It might mean stretching gently and slowly while watching a YouTube video, or taking a bath with essential oils. It might mean painting my nails a beautiful color or brushing my hair and putting soft braids into it. It really depends on what feels good for you.
How do you treat your flare ups holistically?
Do you notice worsening flares in colder weather?