Happy Wednesday, friends!! I've only recently started really using Instagram the way it's supposed to be used (fun fact: did you know for the first year I had my IG account I thought it was ONLY a photo editing app? I had NO idea people could see what I posted!!! Talk about living under a rock! And seriously, thank goodness I never posted anything embarrassing... and that I only had a personal account at the time. Haha!!!). Anyway, in the past week alone we've had nearly 200 new followers on IG- all fellow photographers, which is always such an honor! And we've noticed lots of you are reading our blog! You, dear friends, are the BEST. Seriously.
Today's post is something that I hope will be helpful to all our friends in the industry! For those of you who've read my story- which by this point is literally thousands and thousands of you- you know that my journey to photography was a painful one. But here's something most people still don't know, and it's not something I've shared openly until now: as a result of my illness, I still suffer from systemic chronic pain that affects every part of my body. Not going to lie- it can get pretty rough, especially with a job that means being on my feet constantly. The disease also left me with arthritis in my early twenties, meaning my joints can get especially stiff, especially in the fall and winter. But believe it or not, that's not my point here: my point is that when I first started weddings, because of my pain levels, they were extraordinarily hard on my body. One wedding would leave me essentially bedridden for almost a week after as my body recovered. But this year, with lots of systems in place and the care of one pretty awesome doctor, we were able to start taking TWO weddings in one weekend- something I never would have believed possible, even last year! We still don't do it often, because it's a lot of work for anyone (can I get an amen?!). But knowing I CAN do it has been extraordinarily empowering! So here's my whole reason for writing this whole blog post: for all you fellow photographers out there who spend way too many hours on your feet, here are some of the things I've found to be helpful (and by that I mean things I couldn't live without!!!). Keep in mind I'm not a medical doctor so this can't be considered advice, but these are things that have worked for me, even with chronic pain! Hopefully that means they would be even MORE effective if someone didn't have that?! Make sure you check with your doctor before starting anything new, of course, because this is just my anecdotal experience about what's helped me go from being unable to get out of bed for days at a time to doing two weddings in a row! Here they are:
- Epsom Salts: I probably take 3-4 epsom salt baths a week. Occasionally, if it's extra bad, I'll go do a "Float"- which is essentially a small pool as concentrated as the dead sea. They're not super common right now, but there are a few (your city may have one!). My favorite is Float Seattle. That gets expensive though, so I like to do one at home several times a week and save those for when it's really a rough week! It works WONDERS for sore muscles! Most days, I pour 4lbs of epsom salt in the tub, but after a wedding- especially if I have another one the next day- I'll sometimes do 8-12lbs (2-3 bags). Or even better- buy it in bulk from Amazon and save lots of money :)
- Yoga: One of my favorite FREE resources is Do Yoga With Me! You can sign up for free and they have a TON of online classes that you can take completely free!!! The best part is you can search by class length, type of yoga, and more. My favorite is Hatha Yoga, which is a gentle, stretching based yoga. It's not a meditative or religious yoga like some, and it's not a workout like others. It's basically just linking stretches in a flow with your breath, and it's amazing! When I have a trouble area, I'll do Yin yoga, which is essentially the same thing but with really long holds for stretches.... that will take all the tension away for sure :) I try to do this a few times a week, too. PS- I don't know why exactly, but actually doing these yoga classes is FAR more effective than just stretching alone, so it's worth considering! And it's free! So there's nothing to lose :) Although yoga can be a bit strange to get used to at first, so make sure you give it a solid few weeks if you decide to try it.
- Chiropractic: Okay, I'm convinced chiropractors work wonders. CONVINCED. If you've never tried one, all I can say is it's literally been a Godsend for me. I don't know WHERE I would be without my chiropractor!!! He keeps my back, neck, and ribs in place. Before I saw him, I never realized how tense or tight my muscles were because I thought it was so normal. But now I see him several times a month and he keeps my pain levels and tension way more manageable. I can't recommend this highly enough to ANYONE, but especially other photogs with all the time we spend hunched over our computers or on our feet! Plus he keeps headaches at bay, too- which I'm sure ya'll can relate to with the insane amount of time we stare at our screens :) Because of my illness, I've had a lot of fractures (I lost count, but we're upwards of a dozen now!). During those times where I was recovering- including once with 3 broken vertebrae and two broken ankles at the same time- my chiropractor was the ONLY thing keeping me functional. At all. It is hands down the most INCREDIBLE thing in the world (in my humble opinion).
- Massage: Did you know most insurances will cover massage therapy? How cool is that!!! My massage therapist is a miracle worker, so I try to schedule massages around weddings and then regular ones as maintenance, too. Note these aren't relaxing, nice, soothing massages. They're deep, painful, and actually a little uncomfortable. If I'm being honest, they're not super fun. But she helps with the pain in my neck and shoulders from being at a desk too much and carrying all my heavy gear! Plus she's given me back a significant range of motion that I lost due to nerve damage. It's definitely worth a look to see if it's something your insurance might cover, too :)
- Melatonin: I just started this a few weeks ago, but I don't even remember the last time I slept through the night. It's been so many years I can't even recall!!! For me, that's been an unfortunate side effect of chronic pain, but it's one I've become used to, and so it never occurred to me that there might be a way to fix it! On a whim, I decided to try melatonin (I'm very pro-natural-remedies whenever possible). I was not expecting it to work. At all. Literally. I just was in a curious mood and wanted to buy something natural and organic and thought "Eh! Why not?" But YA'LL. This stuff WORKS. So for all of you who have trouble sleeping the night before a wedding like I do, or who just don't seep well in general, this might be worth looking into! My productivity and energy levels have gone through the roof. It's so bizarre because it just makes me feel slightly sleepy without feeling drugged- then all of a sudden it's morning and I've slept through the whole night! It's a miracle! But it's NOTHING like the sleep medications they've given me in the past, which I would try but then feel so loopy and weird I was a non-functional human for a solid 24 hours :) This is really important because when we work such long hours it's important to get quality sleep!!!
- Guided Meditation: Again, this is something I tried on a whim, and I haven't experimented with it a lot! I just got bored one day, started googling random things, and this popped into my head! I found a video on Youtube that I LOVE and it's really helped me relax! Seriously, this puts me to sleep every time, so when I need a midday power nap or a nice long sleep, I turn this on and it makes me feel like I'm melting into a cloud :)
Again, please note that this cannot be construed as medical advice, and check with your doctor before starting anything new. These are just the things I've personally found to be helpful, and I wanted to share in case it may help anyone else get some ideas about various therapies to look into!