When you’re diagnosed with a chronic illness you may feel a variety of emotions: fear, uncertainty, sadness or even relief. Fear and uncertainty for what you face, sadness at the changes that may come as a result, and maybe even relief at finally knowing what you are dealing with. Living with a chronic illness is a complex experience. It’s important to take care of yourself and give yourself the rest and treatments you need. But make sure you don’t allow your disease to define you. Wake up tomorrow and put some of these tips into action to reclaim your life and boost your mental outlook.
Be More Present
Instead of focusing on how your disease will progress, focus on the here and now and live for today. Really experience things around you and be present for your loved ones. Be present for yourself. Life lived in the moment is much more fulfilling.
While you shouldn’t let your illness overtake every thought you have or action you take, it’s healthy to stay on top of the latest information and research about your disease. Learn tips and tricks to manage symptoms and hear about alternative and mainstream treatments that could increase your quality of life. Know your triggers, understand your body’s response and trust your instincts when making decisions.
This one sounds a little abstract, but what I mean is, don’t lose yourself in your disease. Don’t make your sickness the first thing you share about yourself. Are you an artist, dentist, mother or designer? You are still all the things you were before but with some potential limitations. Show people — and yourself — that you are still that person. Making this mental shift and shift in conversations about yourself makes a wondrous difference.
Demand the Same of Practitioners
Don’t let doctors enter the room identifying you only by your disease. Demand patient-centered care, where you’re recognized as an individual, important person affected by a disease, not simply a disease itself.
Decide How You Will Respond
While you had no choice in whether or not you had to live with this illness, you do have a choice in how you respond to it. If you walk around day after day asking “Why me?” and wallow in despair, you’ll be met with a life of despair. But if you instead decide to accept it and live life with resilience and optimism, your life will be so much brighter — perhaps not as it was before, but much brighter than living with anger and bitterness.
Don’t sit back and let the course of your illness steer your life. Act upon treatments that can change the direction of your life, even if they’re scary. Take what you’ve learned and make informed decisions that can improve your quality of life.
Those fears I talked about above? Discuss them with others. Family and friends can be wonderful ears and helpful hands, but they may not fully comprehend what you’re facing. Look for local support groups made up of people who know exactly what you are facing and feeling. Ask your practitioners to connect you with a group in your area.
Seek Alternative Therapies
Eastern medicine is becoming more and more accepted in our country. Look for alternative therapies that can help manage pain or treat your illness. Find a nutritionist who specializes in your disorder and uses food to heal. Schedule an acupuncture appointment to manage your pain. Book regular massages to keep your stress and tension in check. Don’t just stop with what Western medicine offers; there’s so much more out there.
And most importantly, keep living. You are not your illness. You’ve got so much more to give and receive in this life. As a wellness coach, I can help you find the joy and balance in your life again. Contact me today to map out a path to your personal wellness.
A nurse for more than 25 years, Karen David is a Certified Wellness Coach and Lifestyle and Weight Management Specialist. She brings her passion for well living and calm presence to empower others in health and wellness. Karen is CEO of Live Life Well, LLC.
This article is for informational purposes only. Practices, services or products described are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Please speak with a doctor before beginning any new health regimen.