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It is *Always* Possible to Make Time for What Matters Most

It is *Always* Possible to Make Time for What Matters Most

If you’re a regular participant, you might have noticed that I haven’t been able to make time to join in my own linkups for the past two months! Life has been fraught with stressors of all sorts.

A bit of a vicious cycle as one thing always leads to another; a general rule of life. Actions lead to consequences, consequences lead to choices which lead to actions (non-action is passive action, too). And all this is done either consciously, instinctively or otherwise.

In this month’s linkup, I share my thoughts about priorities, and how I’d like to make time for things that matter to me more.

At some point I should read my entries over the years to see all the slips, slides and progresses I’ve made. It should be both an emotional and fun thing to do!

We Have a Hypersensitivity to Stress, Don’t We?

I’ve been accumulating a load of stress over the past few months, both in my mind and body, and even beyond. The toxicity of stress might not be so apparent to a healthy person, but anyone with chronic illness possesses a hypersensitivity to it. I can literally feel stress, as it manifests as physical pain.

Work stress is always the most vicious kind of stress for me. It might have to do with the fact that it’s a from-waking-to-sleeping-and-even-dreaming cycle for days, weeks and months on end.

I’m the sort of person who isn’t able to fully rest my mind or body when the ball’s in my court, so to speak. I’m well aware of this fact, yet still allow myself to go down the rabbit hole each and every time.

I stick a little toe into that hole, then a whole foot, then go, ‘what the heck, I’m already in so I might as well finish what I started’.

Admittedly, sticking that little toe in was on purpose so that I’d have ‘no choice’, as certain things become commitments to other people.

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Chronic Illness Problems - Hypersensitivity to Stress

The Game Goes on Though, as Long as We’re Alive…

But as long as I’m alive, the balls will keep bouncing back into my court, and the game will go on. I might get a couple good shots in and get the ball out of my court for a little while. But that’s just temporary as life is motion.

I definitely need a better life strategy because the cost is pretty hefty. I get pain flares which force me to keep going to the bench to rest, and not even get to hit the ball for a quite some time.

The people and pets around me suffer for quality time, both because I’m so wrapped up with the toxicity, and also because the pain grows to the point where I can’t even sit and stand without wincing.

One of my biggest warning signals is my steroid dose. If the occasional painkiller isn’t working, I usually need to increase my steroid dose, which means that my body isn’t handling my chronic illnesses very well at all.

Of late I’ve had to push that dose up quite a bit and am unable to reduce the amount. Usually an increase in steroids means that I don’t need my painkillers anymore, but I still do. So I know that I’m not not in a good place all round, and need to do something about it. Which leads me to…

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The Need to Pace with Chronic Illness, Because Life is Motion

‘I Will Make Time for It’, He Said

I gave one of baby cockatiels to this girl, and her boyfriend came along and really liked my new puppy, Talisker. He is passionate about dogs and is constantly reading up about their behaviours, and even bought the whole Dog Whisperer series to learn more.

He offered puppy training classes for Talisker; all I had to do was to pay for his transport and whatever else I could afford. I was touched, because group classes are a little tricky for me, with the unpredictability of chronic illness. And whilst it’s always nice to have one-on-one, focussed training, the price is beyond me.

I felt bad though as he lived a distance away. I asked him, “Are you sure you have the time, though?”

He replied, “I will make time for it.”

Whilst many of us have heard that before, this time it really stuck with me. A flood of random thoughts surfaced in my mind. But the main takeaway that stayed up until now is that we can always make time for the people who matter to us, in one way ar another. There is no excuse.

We Can Still Make Time for What Counts, Despite Chronic Illness

Time management is both an art and a skill. It’s always possible to make time for the things that matter most to you.

My health may present giant barriers, but I can try to buffer in rest time like a cushioned landing at the front and back. Chronic illness may stifle many dreams and hamper my passions, but I just need to do some creative planning, and carve out a route that works for me.

This path may be my own to walk and it’s most likely not going to be an easy one, but I know that I will never be alone. Not unless I choose not to breathe in the fresh air of humanity all around me, or stubbornly refuse to be adaptable.

I need to work on carving out time for the things that matter most to me, and for the people I love. As with any skill, it takes practice.

I know that time management isn’t my strong suite and that I might not be the best sculptor around, but I’d like to start carving out my time with a little more thought, grace and love.

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Time Management is a Skill That Takes Practice - Quote
Chronic Illness and Creative Planning Quote

That All Sounds Fine & Dandy, But What Next?

So how do I carve out quality time for myself, my loved ones and for the things that matter to me? It’s easy to make it sound pretty and revel in the idea, but it only works if I follow up with a plan and action.

That’s where I need to sit down and actually get down to the business of planning then following through. What matters to me most? What does life expect from me? What memories do I want to create, where I can look back on at the end of my life and smile fondly about? Or even not look back on if I die tomorrow?

This will be a bit of a personal reflection for me, so I’ll leave that to my figurative diary. But for one, I do plan to set stricter limits for myself on joining social media threads and the likes.

Let FOMO be FOMO; Lose Out But Win in Something Else That Matters More

I need to tell my brain that, “Yes, you’re experiencing FOMO and that’s okay. Lose out on this, and win in something that actually matters. Like your health, education and memorable experiences”.

I will also need to do some financial planning so that I can take on less work, so that I can heal up as much as possible, and cut down my steroid dose again.

I need to remind myself not to take on so many tasks and jobs even though they might sound ‘simple enough’. They may indeed be simple enough, but I often forget to factor in the fact that it’s still tedious and time-consuming work that eats into my limited energy supply.

I need to prioritise ruthlessly. I only have 3 – 4 productive hours a day with my chronic pain and chronic fatigue in tow. Do I really want to spend those hours on tasks that won’t even matter in 5, 10, 20 years?

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Let FOMO be FOMO. Lose Out But Win in Something Else That Matters More Quote.

Bringing Harmony Back to My Self Through the 7 Dimensions of Wellness

My aim is to get my body back to a manageable baseline, even though it’s still a chronically ill baseline.

It’s ironic, but one of the contributors to my recent pain flares was writing my latest post, ‘The 7 Dimensions of Wellness & How to Use Them for Chronic Pain Management’.

I spent half a day every day for a month chiseling away at it, as it grew into a wordy piece and took roots. The more I researched, the more I found, the more I just had to write about it.

It’s a piece that I’m proud to have produced, but I’m not sure it was worth the pain flares, increase in steroids, and impact it had on the relationships around me. The cost was pretty big.

In any case it’s done and dusted, so there’s no use wondering. I can only move forward and try to do things with a little more wisdom and pacing next time.

I talk about the seven dimensions in that post, which include: physical, mental, social, spiritual, emotional, intellectual and occupational wellness.

I plan on going through my own post as a reference, to see how I can bring harmony of these elements back into my life. Wellness goes beyond physical health; our body is a complex sum of many amazing parts that all need tender loving care and respect.

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Wellness goes beyond physical health quote

A New Website on Blogging & SEO

I have many ideas for blogs and websites brewing in my head. I have a bad habit of snapping up domain names impulsively… and love browsing pretty templates as a form of relaxation.

Anyway, I think I will be finally launching a new website soon that revolves around blogging and SEO, so a bit of a different niche than A Chronic Voice, which has to do more with health, wellness and chronic illness.

It will be a website about blogging for people with time and energy constraints, so it’s still very relevant for those with chronic illness, too!

I hope to provide ‘training’ in the form of blog posts, services, and maybe even mentoring, consultations and packages. Unlike the last time, I’m just going to trim out all the ‘fat’ and bloat, start small, and take it one morsel at a time.

Keeping Talisker Fit Plus Mentally Stimulated

I am also thinking of bringing Talisker for more training classes. Whilst he’s been more well-behaved and less bitey of late, I think that formal training will still benefit him as I’m a total dog noob, and it will help to stimulate him mentally, being a smart sheepdog and all. The only problem is money (of course!), as these courses usually cost up to a thousand dollars.

When he’s a little older and his joints are more formed, I will also take him for agility classes. I bet he’s going to enjoy that as he loves to jump.

So that’s it for my June entry! I’m happy and relieved to finally have some time for myself, and to join in again after two months. Can’t wait to hear about you and how you’ve been doing, too!

*Note: This article is meant for educational purposes and is based on the author’s personal experiences. It is not to be substituted for medical advice. Please consult your own doctor before changing or adding any new treatment protocols.

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Make Time - Why It is Always Possible
It is *Always* Possible to Make Time for What Matters Most
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13 comments

  • Avatar of Carrie Kellenberger

    I thought I’d leave a second comment to let you know I’m here because I’m going through a bit of health crisis right now as well, all related to stress and too much activity. This part of your article really jumped out at me: “A bit of a vicious cycle as one thing always leads to another; a general rule of life. Actions lead to consequences, consequences lead to choices which lead to actions (non-action is passive action, too). And all this is done either consciously, instinctively or otherwise.”

    It’s so true! I’m also struggling to get back to some sort of a baseline this summer. I hope things are going better for you. Sending hugs!

    • Avatar of Sheryl Chan

      Aww… I’m so sorry to hear that you’re going through a difficult time again, Carrie 🙁 It sucks when we dip back down to the bottom of the barrel, doesn’t it? I hope that you are getting the support you need, and rest up. Put as much on hold if you can 🙂 Sending hugs!

  • Avatar of Lucjan

    Do more of what makes you happy 🙂

    If you don’t, where is the point?

    You have one life. Live it! Chronic illness doesn’t mean your life is over. Try to find happiness in everything you do. Don’t make permanent decisions for temporary emotions.

    Take care of yourself before taking care of others, because if you break, you won’t be helpful to them anyway. I know that chronically ill people try to hide their feelings and try to please others before themselves.

    You have nothing to prove. You have to take care of YOURSELF. This doesn’t make you selfish. The world will wait for you. Practice self-care, and again, DO MORE OF WHAT MAKES YOU FEEL HAPPY 🎗

    • Avatar of Sheryl Chan

      Thanks for your comment, Lucjan! 🙂 Haha happiness is not what I strive for in life, but that is a long topic of its own! I wrote a post, “I have no purpose in life, and therein lies my purpose” – should you be interested you can search for it!

  • Avatar of Alison Hayes

    Sheryl,
    So sorry to hear that the last few months have been tough – I feel you on the picking up a bit too much work and then not being able to do it all thing, as I seem to do that all the time!

    I really hope you can get yourself rebalanced and I understand what a struggle it can be. One thing I did that really seemed to help was list my self-care activities as my priority to start the day. I haven’t always stuck with it, but having things like meditating and going for a walk as the top priorities of the day, to be done ASAP meant that I was more likely to do them, so I’d have energy/focus/stability to handle whatever happened next.

    Like most things, it’s much easier said than done, but thought I’d share what’s helped me most(even if I’m not as consistent as I feel like I should be…)

    So glad you’re enjoying time with Talisker and your next project sounds great. SEO and blogging makes sense as a next business step, especially since you have a built-in potential audience – US!

    Hope you can get yourself rebalanced – there’s so much of life to enjoy and you deserve to enjoy it!

    • Avatar of Sheryl Chan

      Thank you Alison for your empathy. I am glad you take good care of yourself through activities, I really need to do that, too! Haha! A built in potential audience – I love the sound of that! 😀 Thank you for all your support lovely. Sending hugs!

  • Avatar of Caz / InvisiblyMe

    I’m sorry you’ve had to up the steroid dose and that you’ve not been in a good place. I personally find this sort of thing – pacing, making time to look after myself – incredibly difficult, especially since the pandemic began more than 15 months ago and I’ve taken on a lot more. There’s more to do, more stress, my health continues to go downhill, and I feel like I’m suffocating, without the chance to breathe or rest. It’s a vicious cycle, and as you say, you then need to work on ‘carving out’ the time because it won’t happen otherwise.

    I don’t have anything useful to say here because I’m a total hypocrite on this subject, but it’s a lot easier to see the situation when it’s not your own. I want to say “sod everything else, it can wait, you need to look after yourself first, Sheryl, etc etc.” But it’s just not that easy. Little steps and practice and you’ll start carving the time a little better in favour of yourself hopefully. I think you’ve done an incredible job with this post. I really do hope you can get back to baseline sooner rather than later. It’s ironic how miserable baseline in with chronic illness, but when things get even worse, the crappy baseline starts to sound pretty appealing!

    PS. I really hope Talisker liked his new puppy training classes! It’s nice of that guy to offer to do it for less, and perhaps some more classes in future would be great for the both of you, especially if he continues to get a bit less bitey. The cost is just extortionate. Maybe hint that you’ll leave a glowing review and mention the company in your blog 😉

    Caz xx

    • Avatar of Sheryl Chan

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts and joining us this month, Caz! I always enjoy reading your entry 🙂 Yea it’s difficult to make time, but I also tend to just let myself ‘slide’, both mentally and physically. I just get so engrossed and ‘trapped’ haha. I need to consciously practice to ‘break’ that chain. Which I aim to slowly do! Build up tiny habits to help me along the way 🙂 x

  • Avatar of Carrie Kellenberger

    I completely agree that stress piles up and manifests as physical pain. I’ve worked so hard to minimize my reactions to stress and to not let stress reactions take over with things that are beyond my control. It’s such a difficult thing to do though.

    Your new website sound great and I’m sure it will be as big of a hit as A Chronic Voice. Looking forward to more Talisker photos, as always!

  • Avatar of Claire

    I feel we are quite similar in letting stress pile up, often from work and then neglecting both ourselves and the people and pets around us. I do find that focusing on carving out a few time-slots in the day to get away from the computer to be helpful – even if, like today, it was to do the ironing instead! Hope the training with Talisker goes well (I may need to send my cat around as he has been up to mischief lately . . .)

    • Avatar of Sheryl Chan

      Haha and it doesn’t help because we ‘help’ each other do more stuff :p Yes I really need to build those ‘me-time’ slots into the day by force. To make them become good habits! Haha yes send Sammy over anytime! He can also train Tally for me 😉

  • Avatar of Despite Pain

    It’s difficult to find time for everything you’d like to do when you’re living with a chronic illness. Over the past year, I’ve had a lot going on, when meant I needed to prioritise my time and energy, so social media and blogging took a hit. It did make me realise that some things are less important than others.

    I’m excited to read about your new website plans. Having a helpful site like that with chronic illness bloggers in mind sounds like a big hit to me.

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