To recover from illness: prioritise self-care, choose the right thoughts and nourish well.


Life takes a turn when illness hits. While often times, illness comes and goes without much disruptions; there are times everything has to stop and life has to change drastically for recovery to happen. The illness I had recently belongs to the latter. I have a persisting lung haemorrhage that will recur upon physical exertion, and I have triggered a big episode this time round. Weakness runs through my body, stamina depletes, life has to slow down for weeks. I’m walking on eggshells, not knowing when the next relapse is. I’m lucky to have made the choice to slow down.

At this moment, I am still in the journey of recovery. I have trudged this journey long enough to derive some meaning as to what this illness has shown me. I believe every life experience has a meaning for us, and for such specific life-changing events, the meaning is huge. As I reflect on this meaning, I grow a little wiser.

Illness signals self-care. Put ourselves first, priorities needs to be readjusted.

I believe that illness hits when we neglect our needs for too long. Our needs to be rested, be nourished, be listened to, be cared for emotionally, be seen and be balanced. Such neglect happens, priorities get readjusted even without us knowing it. Illness is a sign for us to reconnect with ourselves and listen to what really matters to us. True recovery happens the moment we stop, reflect and re-prioritise ourselves to the forefront.

Illness gives a myriad of thoughts, choose the thoughts that empowers and gives hope.

When this big episode happens, just like the previous episodes, I had an onslaught of negative thoughts that weren’t so helpful to my recovery. When illness sets, our thoughts can have a life on its own. I have thoughts like, “why me again?”, “this won’t ever go away, no point trying”, “my body is just too weak for anything”. These thoughts were not helping – they took hope away, put me in a victim mindset. And I know that psychophysiologically, these thoughts impede my healing.

I began to choose and create positivity, by starting with myself. Someone really close to me reminded me to work through gratitude, and said “think of the things that are happening well for you right now”. I did that and began to realise that things are actually getting better, albeit minor episodes of relapse. I began to garner hope that things are turning out well. At the same time, I grew more sensitive to others’ pain in their own versions, compassion began to grow within me. They were afraid, tired, confused and unsure, just like me. It hit me when I realised that at the most fundamental level of living, we are all the same. That gave me strength to trudge on because they didn’t give up either.

Illness often needs wholesome food for recovery. Food and rest comes together.

Rest is the time for the body to reconstruct and repair itself, food is the building blocks for this process. When I was really ill one day, a meal that was well-prepared made a tremendous difference compared to a shoddy meal. Nutrition matters, and it can be felt from the inside out. Ensure our food has high levels of growth and repair nutrients. Couple good food and rest, re-prioritise our personal needs and shifting to a positive mental state, the recovery process will be amped up to a higher frequency.                                               

Original writings by The Realist, inspired by encounters in professional work in life coaching, physical therapy and PhD research.

We seldom notice our contribution, till the closing chapter.


We all have a platform to contribute, in each of our lives, in a way that is uniquely us. This platform can be in our work, family, relationships or community. Amidst the hustle and bustle of our lives, we sometimes do forget to realise how we are needed in the larger picture, that our presence is holding a structure in place. In any role or relationship, we are needed, and we influence the environment around us.

Recently, I reflected on the platform of my professional work, knowing that I am leaving this working community, I realised how much I have forgotten along the way. I worked too hard, and I did not acknowledge the little successes I have accumulated along the way. Until the last week of my work, when my clients and ex-clients came back and said their thanks to me. I realised all these little successes, when added up, were quite phenomenal.

As we said our farewell, some of them have found independence from their pain, and they no longer need me. They found their strength, to be a more assertive person, to be more aware of their pain, to know that they have control over their circumstances, to have grown and did not regressed. I am very happy for them. While others still need my help in freeing their pain, I believe they could do it eventually. But there is only a sense of pity that our work cannot be continued. We have to say our goodbyes.

It is at this closing chapter, I understood the reach and importance of my work. I think it is a little too late.

We do not have to wait till the closing chapter, to recognise our own work.

Often, I absentmindedly overlook the work I should give credit to. I think it will be beneficial for us to personally recognise and acknowledge to ourselves the work that we put through our platforms. I believe it is a strong motivator to our morale. To know that every day we are adding value to the lives of others, to empower the structure around us, is a powerful thought. To know that we are an asset of something bigger, is a recognition that we are needed in the community. The work we do matter, and we as people of the community matter.

This closure has to happen, for me to move to something bigger.

In hindsight, albeit I have seen my work manifesting into a ripple effect of positive outcomes in reality, I need a bigger space to grow. I believe that life consists of a series of milestones, each of which gives us the learnings and experience, to make us stronger to move closer to who we want to be. We have to actively progress and utilise our acquired strengths. The space around us has to evolve as we evolve, may it be a spontaneous evolution or we change the environment to meet our needs. I am extremely grateful to this chapter of my life because I have developed tremendously in these 5 years. But it has come to a point where only a full closure can set me on a wider path to fully expand my abilities. The end of one chapter, is also the start of another.

Original writings by The Realist, inspired by encounters in professional work in life coaching, physical therapy and PhD research.

It all Begins with Acceptance

12534161_522912274554363_1749498935_nAcceptance is the release of a broken reality,

of the hurt, anger, disappointment, the “what ifs” and the “not good enoughs”.

Reborn with acceptance,

we can move on,

to see a new commitment where hope lies,

a commitment to chart a new path.

Original writings by The Realist, inspired by encounters in professional work in life coaching, physical therapy and PhD research.

It is painful because something matters.


In my work, I have seen pain in its most myriad forms. Many people didn’t realise the commonalities of pain in our physical, emotional and mental existence. From my point of view, they all share a common ground, and it is resolving this common ground that we release the pain. The source of most pain is stress, and it is stressful because it matters to us and it has meaning for us.

“When we feel pain, it is a moment for us to pause and slow down. We need to start asking ourselves what message this pain is sending us.”

Emotional and Mental Pain. When I meet a client who is in huge emotional turmoil, wrecked with negative thoughts and beliefs about self, I see a client who is on the brink of being burnt out by stress. This stress probably lies in something that has importance to the client, because we won’t give others or something the power to influence us if they don’t matter. In a relationship breakdown, it is probably the trust that was promised; in depression, it is probably someone or something did not move the way we wanted and the anger got turned inwards, followed by dejection; in anxiety, it is probably the similar lack of control but the energy got directed into a flight state. In most cases, what I am really curious about when someone is suffering psychologically is knowing what matters for them in this process. Then really questioning, should it still matter at this point or should we let go? Or how is the best way for us to value this meaning in a more functional manner?

Physical Pain. For the context of this discussion, this physical pain refers to those stemming from voluntary actions, not mishaps or accidents. In my neuromuscular therapy work, clients coming in with physical strains and sprains usually demonstrates commitment to some form of activity they need or want to do. I tell them “if we have to eradicate pain for the long-term, what do you think this current pain would tell you?”. And they would reply along the lines of taking more rest and having varied movements and stretches throughout the day. Physical pain is a signal the body use to tell us that we have exhausted the body, only because we are doing something that is somehow meaningful for us. But, now it is inflamed and overused, and unsustainable for the long-term. The challenge right here is balance: being conscious of the status of our body and going about our lives and work.

When we feel pain, it is a moment for us to pause and slow down. We need to start asking ourselves what message this pain is sending us. It is only with this reflection can we begin to understand the structure of this pain experience and take effective steps to move past them. Physical and psychological pains are experienced very differently, but they all share a message that tells us what we are doing now is not working. Something needs to change, otherwise the pain will only get more acute or chronic.

Original writings by The Realist, inspired by encounters in professional work in life coaching, physical therapy and PhD research.