Convalescence comes from the Latin word ‘convolescere’ which means ‘to grow fully strong’. It was once considered a distinctly separated and essential stage of aftercare and recovery from illness. In fact it was something you did even if you were generally well but wanted to increase your vitality and vigour.
In today’s fast paced world we have no time to be ill, let alone recover fully. The media and pharmaceutical companies bombard us with offers of miracle potions and cures. Often, our work and family commitments make us feel pressured to bounce back quickly. We feel guilty for taking time off to take care of our health. Everything is now instant. We lack the patience to take care of ourselves and society certainly does not help.
This combination of lifestyle and society means that we ‘get back to normal’ when we are no longer ill or suffering with symptoms… but we are not truly 100% well either. Our body is left that little bit weaker. We may be tired or lack energy and can suffer with frequent sore throats, swollen glands, recurrent digestive niggles, recurrent infections. Often, it’s common to fall for the next “bug” that’s doing the rounds.
When we have an illness, the body will become damaged. Taking medication may alleviate the symptoms of the illness, but it’s your own body that will heal the damage caused. To do this, your body needs time, space and support.
4 Steps to Effective Convalescing
The most important element. Deep, interrupted sleep is when your body turns inward and gets busy repairing itself. Go to bed when it is dark and wake when it’s light. Have an afternoon nap. Sit outdoors in the fresh air, making sure you are wrapped up warm.
Give your body the best quality nourishment – the building blocks for healing. Eat a diet of wholefoods and simple fare. Avoiding stimulants such as coffee, sugar, nicotine or alcohol also helps. Try not to eat dairy and fast foods. Instead, prepare lots of nourishing broth’s and soups – such as chicken soup!
There are many herbs and supplements out there which can support your recovery. Find a qualified practitioner to help you, such as a herbalist or a homeopath.
Try to get your pulse rate up a little each day, but never exert or fatigue yourself. How about trying a walk in nature, or some gentle yoga to stretch the body.
Simon Mills, a herbalist, said to spend no more that 5-10 minutes on any one activity, then move onto a different one. It changes the patterns of mental and physical activity in your body.
Listen to your body when it is asking you to STOP. Try to sleep when you’re tired and eat when you feel hungry.
Release all guilt surrounding your time off. Tell your close friends and family what you are up to so that they can be supportive.
Remove electronic stimulation – turn off your television and your electronic gadgets, including computers, phones and tablets. Instead read books, listen to music or just daydream.
Give your body the love and support it needs to fully recover after the symptoms of the immediate crisis have resolved. Spend time pacing yourself and getting really well – think about filling your fuel tank back to ‘full’ before embarking on any journey. If we set off with only half a tank we may break down before we reach our goal.