Sickle cell and boosting your health (Part 2)
The last time I started talking about how it was important to look after your health if you were living with sickle cell or if you were looking after someone living with sickle cell. Let’s continue reading about what you can do to improve your daily living.
Not too long ago, I attended a clinician and patients’ event for people living with sickle cell. I came away realising that deep down, a lot of people living with sickle cell are not happy. I could relate to everything being said by other patients. I believe what depresses one about sickle cell is how it can creep up on one without notice. As I left, I thought to myself, ‘What can I do to help my mood?’
By that I mean getting some exercise, going to outdoor games, walking, and breathing in fresh air. Of course, being active will not take the pain away and neither does it mean that one will not have a crisis, but in terms of one’s mood being low, it can help in that area and reduce emotional intensity. It gives one mental space so that one can think better and not get soaked in being unwell by feeling anxious or depressed. Research has shown that exercising does improve one’s mood and boosts the level of the happy hormones called dopamine. If you can’t afford a gym membership, then walk.
Connect with loved ones
Try to make an effort to see your loved ones or friends that you like and spend time in their company. Or you could go out to help other people, like being a volunteer for a charity, as this will definitely enhance your self-esteem. Try to have a good support network of friends and family so it can minimise your depression and outlook in life.
Doing some lifting for 10 minutes three times a week is also good for one’s muscles. If you are able to go to the gym, that is fair enough. But if you are not able to do so, then how about carrying your shopping home? Nowadays, there are muscle exercises that you can also find in videos online. Building your strength will reduce muscle fatigue.
Learn new skills
Another way to lift your mood is to find a hobby or learn new skills. What it is that you enjoy doing? Do it. For example, some years ago, I learnt how to make silver jewellery. Learn new skills which could be baking, graphic design, etc. It’s about staying cognitively active, which is critical to one’s psychological and mental well-being. This will keep you active and stimulate your brain.
Protect your joints
Research has shown that walking for about 10 to 15 minutes in one’s neighbourhood or around one’s community will help keep one’s joints supple.
Stay in the present
Don’t dampen your mood by thinking too much about the past or what would be. If you stay in the moment, you will appreciate life more. If you are conscious of your present moment and you notice it in your thoughts and feelings, then you will be able to improve your emotional welfare. Be mindful of your thought process; ask yourself questions about why you are feeling the way you feel. Become aware of the little things: what you see, hear, smell, and sound.
Acknowledge the upside
I know this can be difficult when one is sick. One thing I do when sick is to listen to music, as it helps lift my mood and distracts me from the pain of being ill. If you live with sickle cell, there are things that you can do to help yourself: medicine, bone marrow transplant, gene therapy and food. It is better for you to accept that you might fall ill from time to time and you can’t change that. But don’t get stuck there; instead, focus on the things you can control. Also, try to practise being grateful despite everything.
Workout several times a day
This is more beneficial than going to the gym for a couple of hours. Doing a 10-minute exercise several times during the day will help with one’s cardio-respiratory function. This will also reduce blood vessel stiffness so that blood cells can flow more easily.
Stay away from unhealthy habits
It is very easy when feeling down in the dumps, especially if you are someone who has crises regularly, to develop some unhealthy habits. This could be not sleeping and watching TV till the early hours of the morning; it could be eating lots of sweets and biscuits or cakes. Doing any of these will have harmful effects on your mental well-being.
Lastly, ensure you make time for activities you find fun, such as going to watch a film, dance classes or a concert. It is better for you to make sustainable changes than to not make any changes at all. If it is eating fruits and you don’t like fruits, start with something you like eating and the same goes for exercises and all the various ideas that I have mentioned.
If you would like to get in touch with me about Sickle cell, do so, via email: [email protected] And do check out my blog: https://www.dailylivingwithsicklecell.com/ My book on Sickle Cell – HOW TO LIVE WITH SICKLE CELL and my other books are available for purchase on www.amazon.com