This is a guest post written by thyroid patient advocate and author, Rachel Hill of The Invisible Hypothyroidism.
Being diagnosed with a thyroid condition can feel daunting, confusing and even scary. Many of us are given our medication or treatment and then sent on our way, whilst we wonder what else we could be doing to better our thyroid health. After all, looking at our health holistically can really help us to feel better overall and thrive with thyroid disease.
So what simple things can you start doing now?
1. Understand What Your Thyroid Condition Is and How to Get The Most Out of Treatment
Most of us don’t know what the thyroid gland is, what it does or why it’s so important, when we are initially diagnosed with a thyroid condition. Thyroid conditions can range from hypothyroidism to hyperthyroidism, Hashimoto’s to Graves’ Disease, Thyroid Cancer to Subacute thyroiditis and more.
It is crucial to understand what type of thyroid condition you have and what that means for you. If you have hypothyroidism, then medication to replace low thyroid hormone levels is usually prescribed. For hyperthyroidism, antithyroid medication is often prescribed. For thyroid cancer, a thyroidectomy is usually performed.
As well as understanding the treatment given, ensuring you get the most out of it is also important. Work with a doctor you feel confident and comfortable with, ask all the questions you need and thoroughly read through all information and leaflets you’re given. It is usually recommended that we take any medications on an empty stomach, for example.
2. Recognise If You Have a Sick Identity and Work on Breaking Through It
A lot of people diagnosed with a chronic illness such as thyroid disease, slip in to a damaging sick identity crisis. If you feel as if your health condition is holding you back, if you believe you’ll never feel well or enjoy life again, if you have limiting beliefs or are self-sabotaging your ability to thrive with a thyroid condition, then your sick identity is ruling your progress (or lack thereof) of recovering.
Thyroid conditions are often with us for life, that much is true, but we can live a good quality of life and not feel ruled and defined by it. These limiting beliefs hold us back from making progress in how we feel and get us stuck in a rut. You’re never going to get better if you don’t keep an open mind. We have to actively work against these damaging thoughts.
3. Figure Out What’s Causing Your Thyroid Fatigue
The most complained of thyroid symptom is definitely fatigue.
It’s more than just tiredness, it is real exhaustion and often described as an overall heaviness or slowness to the body.
There can be many causes behind fatigue when we have a thyroid condition. Non-optimised treatment, low vitamin levels, poor diet, food sensitivities, gut health issues etc.
Pin-pointing which ones apply to you can be tricky and time-consuming but all form part of the big thyroid jigsaw puzzle back to good health.
(see the resource at the end of this article for help on finding your cause/s of thyroid fatigue)
4. Create a Thyroid Loving Routine
Being mindful about creating a routine that supports good thyroid health is crucial. Whether that includes sticking to a routine for:
- when to take your medications and supplements
- when you exercise
- when you go to bed
- keeping on top of doctor’s appointments and blood tests
Consistency is the key to success, and this is no different when it comes to successfully living well with your thyroid condition.
You can make changes incrementally, one at a time, so as not to feel overwhelmed, and this is often the best way to adapt to changes and new habits. By slowing adding thyroid loving support and routine into your day to day and sticking with it as best as possible, you create the perfect foundation for ongoing good health and wellness.
Haphazardly doing things here and there, not really having a plan or sticking with new habits never works. It has to be built in to your everyday.
5. Eat Right
You’ve got to nourish to flourish. That’s what I always say!
We can’t expect our bodies to function well if we don’t give it what it needs to do just that. The importance of good nutrition cannot be stressed enough, as everything you eat has the power to either help or hinder your thyroid health.
Thyroid patients that are mindful about their food choices often find improved levels of energy, improved mental health and well-being, and reduced symptoms of their thyroid condition.
Eat with a focus on healthy, fresh and fabulous. Try to avoid alcohol, processed and sugar-filled food and drink. They’re not giving your body any benefits.
You may also be one of the many thyroid patients who benefit from the Elimination Provocation Diet (EPD), where you locate which foods are making your thyroid symptoms worse. The idea with the EPD is to initially remove all and any foods which may be making your thyroid health worse, before adding them back in one by one and looking for noticeable responses to these foods.
Dietary adjustments for better thyroid health are very much individualised but can make a huge difference in how you feel.
6. Exercise Right and Address Your Sleep Patterns
Many of us are guilty of not prioritising exercise or sleep.
Many are also guilty for doing the wrong type, frequency or intensity of exercise for their thyroid condition too.
Exercising with a thyroid condition can prove difficult and if you used to be a very active person before the onset of your thyroid condition, it can be hard to adjust to a less active lifestyle, however, you should still be exercising a way that supports your health.
Over exercising or doing the wrong type for you isn’t helpful and can actually worsen your thyroid health. Think about these questions seriously: Could you be pushing your body too far and causing more harm than good? Could you actually be hindering your recovery from thyroid symptoms?
When it comes to sleep, if you don’t make it a priority to get a good night’s worth, you can’t expect to wave goodbye to thyroid fatigue either. Many of us are going to bed at the wrong time, not getting the right quality or quantity of Z’s, which makes us feel even worse. Our thyroid aches and pains can’t recover and the metabolism can even be affected.
Understanding how to exercise and sleep in a way that promotes good overall health is such a key part to your recovery.
All six of these key areas are covered in the course Freedom From Thyroid Fatigue by Thoughtful Thyroid.
This course helps you with:
- Understanding your thyroid condition and how to get the most out of your treatment
- Working through a sick identity
- Pin-pointing what is causing your thyroid fatigue
- Creating a routine that works for you and keeps you in good health
- Understanding how to eat well, including with meal plans and shopping lists
- Finding the right exercise for you and optimising your quality of sleep
If you found this article helpful, please take a moment to share it in any way using the buttons below! Together, we can raise awareness of what it’s like to live with a chronic illness and explore what it means to reclaim our minds, bodies and lives.
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- 6 Things To Start Doing Right Now if You Have a Thyroid Condition - October 16, 2019