Six Tips to Help You Incorporate Self-Care While Managing Your CF

While you are grinding through a seemingly never-ending cycle of cystic fibrosis treatments, it also can be helpful to engage in self-care activities that bring you happiness. This nurturing routine can help you keep perspective and remind you of why you are undergoing all these treatments in the first place.

| 4 min read
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Angel Newman
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If 2020 taught me anything, it was that simply taking care of myself is not enough; I need self-care. To clarify, I see taking care of myself as health management; this includes treatments, medications, tune-ups, regular appointments with a mental health professional, and generous communication with my care team. Self-care, however, is an intentional catering to myself in ways that make me happy -- or give me a break -- when I'm beginning to feel overwhelmed.

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Last year, I was admitted into the hospital almost every six weeks. This may seem like an odd confession, but -- during that time -- I struggled to answer any questions about myself or things I liked to do outside of the hospital; I realized I had been devoting all my time outside of schoolwork to taking care of myself. This lack of “me-time” and self-development took a huge toll on my mental health.

I often asked myself who was I becoming, and if I had let myself be so submerged in medical routines that I forgot the actual reasons why I was fighting so hard on a day-to-day basis.

Honestly, I had lost a little perspective, but I was determined to fix that. Getting myself out of that funk was difficult. In no way was this an overnight transformation into me being the most self-aware, content human being; but I had to remind myself of small things I could be doing that would lead me down that path.

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After a lot of self-reflection, I found that music, journaling, planned time for good shows/movies, doing my nails, long sunset-capturing drives, any time spent with animals, and coffee are my self-care go-tos. Although the frequent admissions did not stop, I learned to incorporate self-care into my daily hospital routine. And -- might I say -- jam sessions in the shower during tune-ups are so rejuvenating!

Slowly but surely, I was able to perform self-care without an ounce of worry or guilt because I realized that this me-time was granting me perspective.

By doing the small things I could control, I was realizing and accepting my new normal and gaining a different outlook on who I was holistically; my mental health has become so much better because of it.

I would now argue that self-care is an under-discussed aspect of staying healthy.

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Each individual with CF is unique, so I suspect all our manifestations of self-care will look different as well. If you haven't decided on your outlets -- or find yourself in the same boat that I was in last year -- ask yourself these questions:

  1. What calms me down?
  2. What is something I can do regardless of my location?
  3. What used to/can always bring a smile to my face?
  4. What is something I can do for myself physically that would be an accomplishment or lighten my mood?
  5. How am I keeping track of my progress and struggles? (physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually)
  6. What is a low-effort activity that I would consider a “break” from my daily routine?

If you still cannot decide what activity you find suitable for your own individual self-care, start by taking someone else's suggestion and see how it fits you. The main point is that you do these activities for yourself, with no guilt. In the same way, I know when the world constantly throws adversity and sudden change in our faces, taking care of ourselves is all we can do on some days; treatments and pill regimens are not the types of things that can easily bring joy or remind us of ourselves outside of everything that comes with cystic fibrosis.

Interested in sharing your story? The CF Community Blog wants to hear from you.

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Angel studies communications and Spanish at the University of Missouri Columbia. Over the years Angel has called many CF centers home including Children's Mercy Hospital, Blank Children's Hospital, and The University of Kansas (KU) Medical Center. Angel has been a co-speaker for the CF Foundation speaker series with her brother, Paul, and serves on KU's CF Adult Advisory Board. She enjoys cooking with no audience and spontaneous singing. Follow her on Instagram.

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This site contains general information about cystic fibrosis, as well as personal insight from the CF community. Opinions and experiences shared by members of our community, including but not limited to people with CF and their families, belong solely to the blog post author and do not represent those of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, unless explicitly stated. In addition, the site is not intended as a substitute for treatment advice from a medical professional. Consult your doctor before making any changes to your treatment.