It’s Time to Stop Feeling Guilty About Self-care

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by Jen Cueva |

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Do you struggle to prioritize your health when confronted with life’s daily demands? It’s a tough job to balance everything, especially when you’re already exhausted.

When living with pulmonary hypertension (PH), life can be messy and unpredictable. I tend to put others first, and my health drops to the bottom of the list. Because of this, I’ve always been told that “you can’t help others if you can’t help yourself first.”

Are you guilty of this, too? If so, it’s time to prioritize and to move yourself to the top of that list. You are important. Your body requires self-care, and there is no need to apologize for taking the time to make you a priority.

I make every effort to look and act “normal” on good days, if only for a few hours. Other times, people can’t comprehend why I am unable to do something. I am strong, and I am a PHighter. But sometimes, I’m mentally or physically unable to do the things I’d like to do, which is frustrating. My mind whispers, “Let’s go,” while my body screams, “No way.”

I believe that I hid the truth for so long that it’s difficult and embarrassing to share with others how I truly feel. I am not a fraud — I am still the smiling, fun-loving, talkative Jen.

Some days, I am in pain and struggle to breathe. On those days, I feel as if my PH is winning. Does that make me weak? Ironically, the opposite is true. PH may win one day, but I work hard to defend my title on other days.

I still struggle to listen to my body, despite living with PH for many years. After a few extra pushes, my body will remind me — in not-so-kind ways — that I still have PH. These limitations are my reality. I have learned to say no to things, but I still feel guilty sometimes. I am working on this.

I give credit to my awesome husband, who helps to ground me when I am pushing myself too hard. It’s not easy for me to give in, and I’ll often try to convince him I’m not overdoing it when I am.

I often feel that if I am resting and doing things to promote my self-care, then I am weak or selfish. This is far from the truth. I want to ask you to please take time for yourself, as self-care is mandatory when living with a chronic illness, not a choice.

I recently read an interesting article about self-care and chronic illness. The author, psychologist Jennifer Mulder, offers tips for those of us living with chronic illnesses. I found many of her tips useful, and have a few of my own. These include:

  • Be patient with yourself. It is OK to wake up on some days and just breathe.
  • Find things that are enjoyable to you. I enjoy short, guided meditations, a warm chai latte, relaxing, and reading a book.
  • Step outside. Too many PH patients find themselves confined indoors for days. When this happens to me, I try to go onto my back patio. I enjoy sitting and taking in nature as I breathe in the fresh air.
  • When I can, I also enjoy pampering myself with a mani-pedi. Also, let’s not forget those hair appointments! Looking better often gives me that extra boost of positivity that I need. Plus, it is so relaxing.

What are you doing to promote self-love? Please share in the comments below. And remember: I am worth it, and so are you!


Note: Pulmonary Hypertension News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Pulmonary Hypertension News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to pulmonary hypertension.


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