A woman jumping, cooking, and sleeping

Self-Care is Seizure Prevention

Self-care is incredibly important for people living with epilepsy, so I want everyone to have as many ideas as possible.

Every couple of years I like to make sure that I am still following self-care recommendations for epileptics. The reason I recheck for recommendations is, I am in a different place in my life than I was previously, and medical professionals are always learning more. I believe it's important to stay up to date on how to help care for yourself and prevent seizures. My most recent research lead me to BC Epilepsy Society. Here are their self-care recommendations.

8 tips for self-care with epilepsy

1. Carve out some "me time"

As a busy mama and ASU student, "me time" isn't the easiest task. Luckily, I have an amazing husband and we can give each other small pieces of days for "me time." I want to share both of our "me time" activities. Although he does not have epilepsy, maybe his will give you some ideas, too.

My list:

  • One of my favorite activities is kickboxing. I can't wait to get back into it after I give birth. Kickboxing is extremely therapeutic. I go to this amazing place in Glendale, Arizona called iLovekickboxing. They are a fantastic company and know how to motivate you to return.
  • Art is extremely therapeutic. When my toddler was younger I would simply paint in the house. Now I go into my garden to paint so that I can have the my personal time.
  • Reading is also another way I practice my "me time." A nice cup of tea and a great book is always satisfying. If I need not only some solo time but also time to de-stress, I typically will re-read one of my favorite books. Sometimes it's just nice to read a book you already know you love.

My husband's list:

  • Running is the number 1 way he takes care of himself. Sometimes he'll go for a "short" run as he calls it. This is about 5 miles. Other times he'll run for 10 miles. I think it's crazy but he always comes back with an exhausted smile.
  • Listening to an audiobook. He's a big World War I fan.
  • Playing a video game.

2. & 3. Utilize mindfulness and employ relaxation techniques

From my perspective, these 2 tips go hand in hand. At times this can be a real challenge for me. However, these are the 3 options I typically use.

  • I go on YouTube and find a progressive relaxation audio that feels right for me at that moment. Again, like you, a busy lifestyle makes this mainly an option for the nighttime.
  • During the day, I include my daughter in a breathing practice. (I also want her to understand coping skills.) How it works is we both sit down, and we say, "Take a slow, deep breath and now blow it out slowly." We do this between 3-5 times.
  • Lastly, sometimes a new space makes all the difference. Taking a walk around the block can help clear my mind, work off extra energy, and in general help me relax.

4. Get enough sleep – especially with epilepsy!

Sleep and seizures are closely connected. In fact, lack of sleep is one of the most common seizure triggers. Lack of sleep can also lead to more intense or longer seizures.1

I strongly agree with this. If I don’t get enough sleep, I truly feel the drain on my physical and mental health. I always have the goal of 7-8 hours of sleep. Although I typically get around 6-7 hours of sleep. My time tends to get shortened by my beautiful toddler. When I tuck her in and she sticks her cute arm out and asks me to stay, and well, who could say no to that?

5. Eat well

Diet is an essential aspect of self-care. Eating well is crucial for both physical and mental health and I know it plays a large role in my seizure control. I try to avoid junk food and eat a balanced diet. I love red grapes, watermelon, cantaloupe, and avocados. I can never say no to corn on the cob and a nice spring salad. Chicken and steak also add a great amount of joy to my life.

But I'm no saint. Chips, dark chocolate, strawberry milkshakes, and Capri Suns all have a strong place in my heart. I previously wrote an article about how I cut added sugars out of my diet. Well, being pregnant, I caved to my sugar cravings more than I should have. When I got myself back on track I decided to limit my sugar intake instead of cutting it out. Strawberry milkshakes are too amazing to never have again.

6. & 7. Exercise regularly and interact with nature

Recently, I have started to include my daughter in a small workout routine. She loves squats and does them in the most adorable way I have ever seen. I feel a big difference in my mood and energy level when I exercise, even if it’s only for 10 mins with my daughter. I also get the joy of watching her mood improve too.

Like I said previously, I love kickboxing. I workout my body and my mind clears as well.

Working in my garden is the biggest and most important way that I interact with nature. My garden brings me so much joy and peace. I have worked hard to create a living soil and a year later, I am able to watch the benefits of my handwork. My garden is focused on bringing in a variety of pollinators. Again, after a year of hard work, the pollinators have come. My herb garden is also thriving, which means my family is able to benefit from the garden. There is nothing more yummy than fresh herbs when your cooking.

Best of all, these plants are all native to Arizona. That means I am reducing the amount of water needed to care for these plants. Unless we are in an extreme drought, they can mainly care for themselves (this does not include the herbs).

8. Build a community of support

Building a community of support is essential for managing epilepsy. It's essential to have people you can talk to about your struggles and get advice from. One way of these easiest ways to build a community of support is through online support groups. These groups are an excellent resource for connecting with others who have epilepsy and getting the support you need.

Daily self-care when living with epilepsy

These self-care tips have made a significant difference in my life as someone living with epilepsy. Incorporating these practices into my daily routine has helped me to feel more in control of my condition and has improved my overall well-being.

I have found that taking time for myself, being mindful, practicing relaxation techniques, getting enough sleep, eating well, exercising regularly, interacting with nature, and building a support system have all played a part in helping me to manage my epilepsy in a positive way.

I encourage anyone who is struggling with their own health, whether it be epilepsy or another condition, to prioritize self-care and make it a part of their daily routine. We all deserve to live our happiest and healthiest lives. Always remember, you are not alone.

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