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.

Us, the Falling Angels


How did it all get so heavy?

I used to stand up so tall

There’s only so much I can carry

Before I fall

~ Excerpt from “Heavy”, by Delta Goodrem

Stress is beyond a lack of coping resource,

it is also about how long we are immersed in this lack.

People talk about having a cup half full or empty,

when the matter is about holding on to the cup.

Sometimes the best closure is to let it go

and set ourselves free.

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


Tennis ball & foam roller: Your personal therapists


Much of our neuromuscular pains and ailments involve myofascial adhesions. As our body gets exhausted, strained or dehydrated, our myofascial system contracts and tightens. The fascia membrane resembles a cling wrap that shrinks and adhere to one another when the body is stressed. When tightened, the inflammations will cause muscular trigger points, generating pain and restriction. By reducing these adhesions, our muscularkeletal system will be freed and body’s circulation will be improved to facilitate healing.


It is a pity when I realised my clients have to turn to medications to solve these problems when the most appropriate treatment is to undergo neuromuscular manipulations. It reduces the pain intensity by at least 50% after the treatment and it is a natural method without any pharmaceutical intake.

For self-treatment at home, I recommend clients to try using props such as the tennis ball and foam roller to reduce such myofascial adhesions. It is recommended after doing such self-treatments that you rest the area for at least 24 hours and drink lots of fluids. It can be applied across any body parts with remarkable results. Try some of these next time you experience muscular discomfort.

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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.