Guest post by Jessica Murnane
If you’re a person living with endometriosis, caring for yourself needs to be your number one priority. Alright, I know what you might be thinking. “What about my job? My family? My school? My other responsibilities? I don’t have time to do this. Also, it’s sounds pretty selfish to put my care above everything else.”
I get you. But here’s what I have to say to that…
If you’re a person living endometriosis, caring for yourself needs to be your number one priority. The better you take care of you, the better you’ll be able to care for those people and things in your life that you want to put first. It can be a pretty huge mental shift to put yourself first, but once you start doing it, incredible things can happen.
The first step to putting yourself first is creating endometriosis diet and lifestyle tools. While there is no cure for endometriosis, it’s our responsibility to create tools to help manage our pain and symptoms each day. It’s time to show your endo who’s boss and be the Endo Diva that you are.
Below are my top 5 tips/tools to get started naturally.
Doctors and nutritionists have been debating for years what the best diet is for our overall health. It’s hard to find a single theory that everyone can agree on. But one idea remains pretty consistent in every camp: inflammatory foods are not our friends, especially for women with endometriosis.
Let’s think about it for a second. With endo, your insides are already pretty inflamed, right? Adding inflammatory foods will only add fuel to the fire. And sometimes it can literally feel like fire.
Do your best to stick to an anti-inflammatory whole foods diet. It’s not about being perfect, it’s about figuring out which foods help or hurt your body and it might take some experimenting to get it just right. You can find out more about the relationship to endometriosis and diet here.
Research has revealed that cortisol levels (these are the hormone levels closely tied to stress) are significantly higher in women with advanced endometriosis as compared to women without the disease. What the heck? Endo can already be such an extremely stressful condition. And now we find out that we are more prone to stress than other women AND it might make our symptoms worse? What are you supposed to do? TAKE ACTION.
Knowing that you are more prone to stress, it’s crucial that you introduce stress management tools. They can be as simple as finding an activity or hobby that chills you out (coloring or knitting), meditation, and taking a nice long bath or shower. Try to find a small act every single day that can help you relax.
The FDA does not require companies to disclose the ingredients in menstrual-hygiene products. Which is pretty scary. So, each month, we are sitting on or putting up our vaginas potentially dangerous pesticide-covered, bleached, and chemical-containing products. This is on one of our most sensitive and absorbent body parts!
Make sure to look for 100% cotton pads and tampons (some people with endo can have more pain with tampons, so try pads) OR look into alternative products like menstrual cups (Lena is a good one), reusable cloth pads (like Lunapads), or underwear with protection built in (Thinx is an awesome brand).
4. Movement + Exercise
This is a tricky one, because there are days that it can be hard to get out of bed with endo, let alone go for a run. But consistent movement for our bodies is necessary with endometriosis. First off, we need the endorphins (endorphins are the natural chemicals in our body that help fight pain). Second, because some people with endo spend a lot of time curled up in bed, their muscles can become pretty tight and sore. It’s important to move your body as much as you can to lengthen these muscles, even if that means simply stretching in bed.
5. Do not let your disease define you.
You are not your endometriosis. There might be days when it feels like it’s taking over your life, but your endo does not define you. Spend a few moments thinking about all of the things that make you special…how you’re a good friend, your sense of humor, your patience or compassion. These are the things that make up YOU, not your disease. And it’s just another reason to start putting your health first. You need to find the YOU that you love most. That person might be buried so deep inside that you’ve forgotten her. But it’s not too late. Start putting your care first, right now.
Jessica has contributed to and appeared in magazines and websites that include Bon Appétit, Goop, Shape Magazine, The Kitchn, Mind Body Green, The Coveteur, Food52, and PopSugar. And has spoken at Apple, Taste Talks, Good Fest, and Wanderlust.