Louise Webb is the owner of Tiny Acorn Mighty Oak www.tinyacornmightyoak.co.uk, a website selling Louise’s mixed media positive affirmation art, with a blog focused on encouraging people to nourish their soul, do what lights them up, embrace creativity and choose peace, which have all played a vital role in Louise’s holistic journey to wellness with Rheumatoid Arthritis. In her spare time, she loves walks along the beach, spending time with her husband, watching films and creating mixed media art.
‘I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis in 2015, following joint damage shown in an x-ray, after about 3 years of experiencing severe symptoms. Unfortunately, the diagnosis took so long because my blood tests did not flag up the correct markers. At the time, I was devastated as I had to resign from my full-time teaching job and I was very poorly, spending the next three months in bed.
As I had recently become engaged and had not started a family, I decided to take the natural holistic approach, avoiding medication, to try to manage and heal my condition. I completely overhauled my diet, following an anti-inflammatory plan and I sought help from holistic practitioners to deal not only with the symptoms but the root causes of my illness. I also set out to change my mindset and a big part of this involved finding my creative release through art.
Three years on, I am almost pain and swelling free day to day, with only occasional short-lived flare ups; I have overcome the debilitating daily fatigue and I have halted any more joint damage, with no further damage shown in my most recent x-rays. As importantly, I am happy and fulfilled. I have also started a creative online business, selling my positive affirmation mixed media art and sharing my story on my blog, as I have experienced the benefits of a more positive mindset and want to bring that hope and support to others.
I wanted to share some of the ways I changed my mindset on my road to recovery:
- Acknowledge and accept – After my diagnosis, I soon realised how important it was to acknowledge how I was feeling and begin to accept what had happened. This is still an ongoing process, especially when I have the odd little flare up. However, by acknowledging that I was feeling angry or devasted or hopeless or whatever the emotions was, it passed more quickly than trying to resist the emotion and fight it , which also used precious energy. I also used this to help deal with the pain by acknowledging that I was in a lot of pain and accepting that in that moment, I wasn’t feeling very good. It allowed things to shift more quickly with less resistance. It really helped to ask my husband and family to acknowledge how big, scary and rubbish this was now and again rather than constantly giving me a positive pep talk. This all helped me to come to terms with the diagnosis; grieve the loss of my former life and move forward into building a new manageable life that I love.
- Choose peace – This has become a favourite mantra of mine and has been a very important part of my journey. Every decision I make revolves around asking myself if this will bring me peace and the answer has a large factor in whether I say yes or no to something. I have learnt that I need to carefully manage my stress levels, by putting up strong boundaries, spending less time with people who drain my energy or bring drama into my life and saying no to things I don’t want to do to leave my precious energy for things I love doing.
- Do what you love – As I was starting to feel better, I missed having a purpose and a reason to get out of bed in the morning. At first, I started making art and experimenting. This was incredibly healing as it allowed me to switch off from the worries of my illness and lose myself in creativity. It still completely lights me up and brings so much enjoyment. When my health was turning a corner and the fatigue started to lift, it was at this point that I decided to start my website, which really gave me a purpose and a sense of being fulfilled again as I was seeking to give hope to others going through a similar experience.
- Surrender and let go – This was the trickiest lesson for me and still requires daily work! I found that I needed to let go of the rigid demands and high expectations I had set myself to give myself permission time to heal and rest. As someone who was previously working 13-hour days and weekends, this has not come easily but it has definitely brought me peace. As part of this, I have also learnt to treat myself with kindness and compassion, which has made a huge difference to the inner dialogue I hear on a daily basis!
- Nourish yourself and listen to your body – I learnt the hard way that not taking good care of yourself (mind, body and soul) and ignoring what your body is trying to tell you leads to ill health. I know how vital it is to listen to what my body needs and watch out for the signs that I need to take action – which may be a rest, more sleep, a walk in nature, doing something creative or reducing any short term stressors. My illness was a giant wakeup call that good health is priceless.
I hope my story will support and give hope to you wherever you are on your journey with chronic illness.’
I am running a free 7 day Nourish Challenge, encouraging people to nourish their mind, body & soul and look after themselves, on May 8th – 14th. Details can be found on my website www.tinyacornmightyoak.co.uk.