Most people experience a minor illness from time to time, but when you’re living with chronic illness daily, it can be difficult to keep your spirits up. You might have trouble doing the things that made you happy in the past or getting out of bed in the morning.
Does your chronic illness keep you in bed all day? Have you been feeling like the world is crumbling around you as this sickness dominates every aspect of life that it touches, leaving nothing but despair and negativity in its wake? It’s hard to fight back against something so powerful – and oftentimes invisible to everyone else. But don’t give up! There are many ways for people with a chronic illness to still be happy and successful, you just have to find what works best for YOU.
Be mindful and present.
Take note of your struggles. Are you experiencing pain, fatigue, grief? Give these symptoms time, recognize them, then move on positively. As the symptoms pass, don’t let them be forgotten, but realize that that state isn’t a constant one. What have you achieved despite your illness?
Take care of yourself and don’t let the symptoms take over. You’re not alone in this, so give these struggles time to pass before recognizing them as part of your journey with your chronic illness. Remember all that you have achieved despite it, too!
Whatever you do, don’t let your diagnosis define you. You are not your illness. You are a whole, individual human being who deserves love, happiness, and anything else your heart desires. Be patient with yourself.
Figure out your triggers get ahead of them, have an action plan.
Your triggers are the main focus when it comes to combating illness. Heat, over-exertion, stress, weather changes, even certain types of food can all be triggers for people who live with chronic illness. It will take some time to figure out all of your triggers. Until you do, jot down when you notice a symptom and try to brainstorm ways to avoid them.
For example, if your trigger is heating, there are SO many products out there that can help; cooling mats, cooling towels, handheld fans, cooling vests, just to name a few. Get online and do some shopping or talk to others and get recommendations. When you find what works for you, you’ll be prepared and will know exactly what to do in the future to avoid making your struggles worse.
Use your experience to raise awareness, empower others.
Once you’ve got a handle on your triggers, why not use your experience to help others? I’m sure you can recall the feeling of being alone in your challenges. Imagine being the comfort for someone else at the beginning of this process. There are many ways you can encourage others on their journey:
- – Put your thoughts and experiences into a blog which you share in support groups
- – Fundraising is an amazing way to raise awareness, be creative and get your friendsinvolved
- – Be available and approachable
- – If you have any kind of treatment in a hospital setting, talk to people in the waiting room, be open and honest and listen to others. Even if you aren’t facing the same obstacles, it can still be comforting to just have someone. Do your research. Connect with others. Noticed a new symptom? Odds are you won’t be the only person in the world who has experienced it. Research different coping strategies, holistic practices, natural remedies, etc as much as you have the energy for. If you’ve exhausted your options, get in touch with other people who live with chronic illnesses. Social media has so many groups which you can join with others who share your diagnosis. Reach out and discuss what’s happening to you. Knowing that you’re not alone can bring a sense of relief and having a space to vent is so useful when you’re having a rough time.
- Move your body!Low impact exercise keeps those with chronic illness moving and flexible, and it’s even a great option for reducing and controlling pain. You have to have a certain level of self-discipline and motivation to get up and at it, regardless. Use your better days to your advantage, and move around a bit extra.
A lot of options for simple routines are available for free on YouTube, so you can do them from the comfort of your own home. Yoga, swimming, going for a walk, stretching, or light pilates routines are just among the many options you have.
Get some good quality sleep.
We all know how important sleep is. It’s almost like a best friend, one that might just be yours too! But sometimes chronic illnesses can make it difficult to get the rest you need and deserve. You have to take care of yourself; your body needs a break from everything life throws at it on any given day. Make sure bedtime feels as comfortable as possible by surrounding yourself with calming colors, decorations, or anything else that reminds you of home while also giving off comforting vibes for an awesome night’s sleep.
Meditation can help to calm your mind in preparation for rest, and so can coloring, reading books, stretching, and any other calming activity that you particularly enjoy. Sometimes the symptoms you experience can make it difficult to settle when you need to sleep, but having a relaxing nightly routine may be able to ease you into rest more effectively. If you struggle to get good quality sleep, talk to your medical team – that’s what they’re there for! Perhaps they can offer you therapy, recommend some useful tips, supplements, or medication that can help you to sleep better. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it.
Speak with your employer.
If you work and you’re struggling day-to-day, don’t wait until your health starts deteriorating before you speak up. You may be surprised at how understanding your employer can be. Once you’ve opened up and been honest, they can work with you to figure out a routine or schedule that works best for you. This isn’t always the case, so always know your rights when approaching your employer and keep HR on speed dial if necessary!
A lot of people with chronic illness find that they can no longer continue to work a full-time job, and that’s okay. But for those who are still able to work, don’t over-exert yourself when it’s not necessary. You didn’t choose to have this condition, and your determination to carry on living a ‘normal’ life is commendable. However, if there are accommodations that make things easier for you, why not take advantage of them? Again, HR can be a great resource – especially if your employer is not accommodating your needs.
Never, ever give up.
Chronic conditions are lifelong, and it can seem overwhelming to think about a life that far ahead. However, remember that you are not alone – and this is where your power lies. Establish a strong support group to rely on during the tougher times.
And no matter what, keep in mind that this is your life and although you’ve been thrown a major curveball, you’re going to live it to the fullest! Choose to thrive. Research your diagnosis, connect with others, look into self-management options, and never be hesitant to ask for help.