Journal

How to Have a Better Relationship with Your Body (POTS Edition)

October 11, 2022

A photo of Joanna No Banana, who is the writer of this blog post, a white woman with brown, curly hair wearing a blue floral dress and black roller skates while putting on a helmet

SPECIAL GUEST BLOGGER

Hi Cardiogram Fam! We’d like to introduce a special guest blogger, and fellow Cardiogram Member, Joanna No Banana (as she’s known online). Joanna is a disability advocate on her journey to living her best life with Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS), Mast Cell Activation Syndrome (MCAS), and Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS). For Dysautonomia Awareness Month, we asked Joanna to share her experience and wisdom of living with POTS. To connect with Joanna, find the links to her socials at the bottom of this post. 

The relationship between individuals and their bodies is complex. It varies greatly from person to person. That relationship becomes complicated due to many different factors, such as chronic illness. With a chronic illness like Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS), we tend to lose trust in our body over time due to certain symptoms. How can I trust my body when I might faint seemingly out of nowhere? How can I feel fully in control of my body when there can be a flare up seemingly without a cause?

While dealing with POTS overwhelms many people living with this chronic illness, there are ways in which we can heal our relationships with our bodies. Two major ways are through daily management tools for POTS and through access to the power of information about POTS. 

Daily Management Tools for POTS 

Daily management tools help to empower those with POTS by giving them additional control over their daily symptoms. It can take some time and effort to figure out the specifics, so don’t feel discouraged initially. Not all of these options will be accessible to everyone, especially if there are other health concerns which need to be taken into consideration. So, please proceed with caution and check with your healthcare provider prior to starting any new health plans.  
Great general tips for daily management of POTS
picture of 5 salt shakers
  • Increase salt intake through food and/or electrolyte drinks/tabs 
    • Have a saltshaker by you during mealtimes to use as needed. 
    • Intake electrolytes for an extra boost of potassium, magnesium, and calcium.
line drawing of 6 drink containers in different sizes and colors
  • Increase water intake 
    • Find what type of water container works best for you! Personally, I love having big containers with straws as I find it much easier and faster to consume the water. 
    • Meals, especially carb-heavy ones, can be a trigger for POTS as the blood rushes to the stomach area to help with digestion, causing blood pooling issues in extremities such as feet. Increasing water intake before a meal can help to increase blood volume, decreasing symptoms.
graphic of many socks in various patterns and colors
  • Wear compression clothing  
    • Compression socks are becoming more popular so there is a wide variety of options available. 
    • Compression bodysuits are also an effective way to help with POTS symptoms.
  • Avoid long periods of standing
  • Rise slowly after lying down
  • Start slowly with exercise, but check with healthcare provider first (not recommended for those who have or may have ME/CFS) 
    • Exercise with POTS is a bit complicated but doing slow controlled movements in bed while lying down can be very beneficial!
  • Talk with your doctor about beta blockers 
    • Your healthcare provider can help establish if beta blockers are the right path for your POTS symptom management. 
A photo of Joanna No Banana, who is the writer of this blog post, a white woman with brown, curly hair wearing a dark blue dress and black leggings running in a field with mountains in the background

Understanding Your Body with POTS

Another way in which we can help heal our relationship with our bodies is by better understanding our symptoms. Now that we’ve already covered the basic symptom management tools, let’s talk about how we can optimize those tools! Having access to the proper information regarding your body helps to track and manage POTS symptoms.

A great way to keep track of your symptoms is through the Cardiogram app. The Cardiogram app connects easily with Apple Watch, Fitbit, Garmin, and Wear OS by Google so you can avoid inputting the information manually. There is also a section where you can write notes about anything that these devices don’t pick up, bridging the information gap. All of the information is stored in one place so it’s easy to see patterns and the bigger picture of your health. This makes it easier to identify which problems should take priority. The Cardiogram app also displays information in a condensed way, making it easier to show to healthcare providers in a quick and efficient manner.  

By keeping track of your POTS symptoms and learning how to manage them with your daily management tools, such as electrolytes and compression clothing, it’ll become easier to trust your body. It’ll also become easier to understand what your body needs and figure out which triggers affect which symptoms. Information about our bodies is a major part in building our relationship with our bodies rather than feeling like we’re fighting against it. 

Self-Care and Self-Love with POTS

While living with a chronic illness like POTS affects our relationships with our bodies, it’s possible to grow into a relationship where it teaches us to show love to our body and ourselves in a different way. Self-care is often portrayed as face masks and baths, but it can also mean electrolytes and rising slowly out of bed. At its core, self-care is about being good to yourself and your body. With POTS, we have even more chances to practice self-care and self-love because that’s what our bodies need from us to get a chance to thrive.

There is a lot of power in logging symptoms and experiences and learning from them to know what to expect when making choices which may not be the best for your POTS. The goal is to live our best lives with POTS and learn to understand our bodies in order to better work with them, so that we can make the right decisions for us to live the happy lives we deserve! 

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