Simplify: It’s our theme this month here at Autoimmune Sisters. By definition, the word means to make something easier or to diminish in scope and complexity. As a recovering perfectionist and chronic overthinker, I have a tendency to overcomplicate things, so this concept is often challenging for me. Plus, nothing about living with an autoimmune disease is simple. In fact, it’s the complete opposite. With various elements at work affecting how we feel — from medication types and dosages to food and digestion to stress levels and sleep quality — it’s challenging at best. However, there are steps you can take to make life more manageable and it starts with a ‘KISS’. [Side note: Does anyone else now have that Prince song stuck in their head, or is it just me?]
Remember in junior high when you were taught the K.I.S.S. Method? It was an acronym for Keep It Simple, Stupid. Okay, that last part was probably uncalled for, but it was the ‘80s when I learned it and times were different. Anyway, nowadays, I prefer to think of the K.I.S.S. Method as an acronym for Keep It Strategic and Small.
Keep it Strategic
To be strategic, you need to observe and prioritize. Tune in to your body’s messages. Pay attention to your energy level, sleep quality, digestion, stress level, pain threshold, etc. Where are you experiencing the most discomfort or upset? Can you see what is triggering negative responses or flares? What are those triggers and how often do you get triggered? Where do you need the most relief and/or support? What is your body telling you?
Keep it Small
After you’ve determined where you need to focus your attention, start small. Sure, you probably have more than one area upon which to improve, but taking on too much at once can be both overwhelming and ineffective. If, for example, you want to raise your energy levels and you simultaneously start drinking more water, taking daily walks outside in the sun, going to bed earlier, and supplementing with ashwagandha, rhodiola, and B12, you can’t effectively analyze what’s working and what’s not. Select one area on which to concentrate and make only one change at a time. Keep track of what works and what doesn’t before tackling the next adjustment. [NOTE: The same can be true about research. Reading all the books, listening to all the podcasts, following all the social media accounts can be too much! Pick one or two and eliminate those that don’t serve you.]
The best part about this twist on the K.I.S.S. Method is that it works in all areas of life, not just autoimmunity. Need to clean out your house, but feel overwhelmed by the thought of all that work? Tackle one room (or even one part of a room, like a closet) at a time. Identify the space that gives you the most anxiety in its current state and let the others be. Need to simplify the family dinner routine? Choose one method, like meal planning, meal prepping, or batch cooking, and see if it works for you. If not, the next week try something else.
The bottom line is this: To simplify anything in your life, including autoimmunity, you need to be strategic and start small. Identify what matters most to you, focus your efforts there, and let everything wait until you’re ready for more. And if some of those areas really can’t wait, it’s okay to ask for help.
AUTHOR’S DISCLAIMER: I am not a doctor, physical trainer, registered dietician, or health care provider, and am not licensed to give medical or nutritional advice. The purpose of this article is to share personal experiences and/or current research in order to educate, inform, and support readers. It should not be taken as medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always consult your doctor and/or professional medical team to determine if the ideas discussed herein are appropriate for your individual circumstances.