Some of my recent columns have been exhausting to write. This is because many of the experiences I have discussed have been difficult to actually live through. We live in a society that frustrates us. Living with muscular dystrophy is never easy, and creative living is necessary. Learning how to rejuvenate is one approach.
The lack of simple accessibility improvements at public venues is frustrating. So is the fact that appropriate healthcare and other essentials are so difficult to get. We get frustrated with the need to fight for changes and for access to assistive technology.
Frustration also results when others don’t understand our illness or assume we’re unable to do anything because of our disability.
These frustrations can add up. That’s why it’s so important to learn to deal with them and leave them behind. It’s imperative that we work every day to bring down our stress levels.
Practicing rejuvenation can help bring us back to a state of peacefulness. I have spoken with many individuals who have muscular dystrophy, and I often ask, “What do you do for rejuvenation?”
As a licensed clinical counselor for 30 years, I always started the counseling process by focusing on the presenting issues. Regardless of what the individual was dealing with — depression, anxiety, relationship issues, etc. — we first needed to identify what symptom was bringing them into the office.
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While the counseling followed a timeline that moved from past to present to future, I always interjected two questions about rejuvenation: “What do you enjoy doing?” and, “How can you fit this passion into moments of rejuvenation in your life?”
I was talking with Michele Mahr, PhD, an assistant professor of rehabilitation psychology at California State University, Sacramento. One of her areas of focus is exercise behaviors for individuals with disabilities. Her passions are exercising and harnessing the mind and body to manage chronic or daily conditions. This positive psychology approach is powerful.
Mahr said, “Movement can be a viable tool to release and rejuvenate the mind and body. Using exercise or any type of physical activity can increase endorphins, stimulate neurotransmitters, and also provide clarity for the mind.”
She added, “The movement does not have to be intense and can depend on the severity of the disability. The psychological benefits to exercise and movement are advantageous for individuals with muscular dystrophy when facing obstacles, chronic pain, or other daily stressors.”
I espoused the positive psychology approach of rejuvenation while working with individuals in counseling. It has also worked well for me, even before I started showing signs and symptoms of my muscular dystrophy. I want everyone to understand how simple this can be, and how powerful the results can be.
My job as an executive director of a senior service organization was incredibly difficult. There were lots of issues, and I was working long hours. When I felt that I needed to break away for a moment, I’d close my office door and log onto the website for my rotisserie baseball league (fantasy baseball, as it is now called). I love baseball, especially the statistical nature of the game. There are also great stories and an interesting history.
I’d spend 10 or 15 minutes looking at the latest baseball news and stats, and I would feel relaxed. I know this made a huge difference. This simple act of rejuvenation made me feel like I could continue with my day.
Thriving is about finding your passion and learning how to harness its power in short rejuvenation breaks. It’s also about recognizing when you are reaching the breaking point. While there are similarities between this and the process of positive thinking, which I’ve written about, this practice is very powerful as a short burst of relaxation.
I hope you can give this a try. Take time to separate from life for a few minutes. Find that paradise you can enjoy in short bursts throughout the day.
Note: Muscular Dystrophy 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 another 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 Muscular Dystrophy News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to muscular dystrophy.