Endometriosis: be good to yourself

by Ellen T Johnson

Women with endometriosis are inundated with so-called “good advice.” We’ve heard it all – from “just relax” to “just have a baby and the pain will go away.” We’re smart enough to know that most of this well-meaning advice doesn’t really work. We’re left wondering if anything can actually help us.

One thing we know for sure is that endometriosis is a very individualized disease. No woman experiences it exactly the same way as another. So what works for one person might not work for another. We also know that this disease can take a toll on us physically, mentally, and emotionally. It can cause us untold stress and the stress often makes our symptoms worse.

So how do we take care of ourselves as individuals while dealing with this disease? Let’s look at a few things that might actually help.

Some foods might cause more pain

Try eliminating caffeine, alcohol, sugar, red meat, fried foods, and wheat from your diet just before and during menstruation. Add foods high in omega-3 fatty acids (such as salmon, flax seeds, and herring). You might have less pain. See also interview with Dian Shepperson Mills.

Relaxation isn’t just good in theory

Try to carve out a few minutes each day to relax. This can be as simple as putting on headphones and listening to relaxing music. Breathing exercises also help calm the body.

Sleep, sleep, sleep

Studies suggest that sleep deprivation results in hormonal and metabolic changes, inflammation, and increased levels of pain.

If you’re having trouble sleeping, try homeopathic sleep remedies, a cup of chamomile tea, or a spritz of diluted lavender oil on your pillow. Getting outside during the day can also result in better sleep. If sleep deprivation becomes a problem, see your physician.

Replace negative thoughts with positive ones

According to Harvard researchers, optimism results in better overall health. Make an effort to turn negative thoughts into positive ones. It will make you feel better if you find ways to be hopeful while facing the day-to-day challenges of endometriosis. Suggested reading: Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind & Your Life, by Martin E. Seligman.

Move when you can

Researchers have also found that physical activities can ease tension and release endorphins (your body’s natural painkiller). Take advantage of the times when you’re able to be physically active. When you don’t feel up to brisk activity, try something simpler, such as taking a walk around the block. It might be slow going at first, but you will probably feel better afterwards.

Simplify your life

Most women are strained with too many commitments and too little time, which takes a toll on us after a while.

If you’re overburdened, you might consider simplifying your life by asking what tasks or responsibilities can be eliminated or delegated to others. Suggested reading: the Simplify Your Life series of books by Elaine St. James.

Avoid toxins in your environment

Try to eliminate as many toxins in your life as possible, opting instead for natural products.

Join a support group

If a support group exists in your area, join. They understand what you’re going through when others might not. If no support group exists in your area, try to find at least one supportive person to share your concerns with. Don’t keep all your frustrations inside!

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