Living with a chronic illness is without a doubt one of the greatest challenges life can give you. It’s demanding on your energy, it depletes your positivity when you experience those inevitable complications,and it’s taxing on your body to withstand such an incessant struggle. On the other hand, living with a chronic illness can be a lesson in resilience, as it teaches you to appreciate every precious moment of joy, and live your life to the fullest, no matter how difficult it can become.
Too many people who live with these conditions choose to abandon some of the greatest pleasures of life, such as travel, social events,or simply eating out with a loved one. On that note, living with such a debilitating condition, whether it’s any form of diabetes, kidney disease or Crohn’s disease, these experiences can be as rewarding and majestic as for those who are lucky enough to travel healthy. It all depends on how you build your mindset and how you tackle these unique obstacles and turn them into opportunities.
Self-care should come first.
Focusing on the negatives can rarely help you heal. If you listen closely, you’ll understand what your body is telling you through those myriads of symptoms is more along the lines of what it needs in order to heal. Look behind all those aches, pains and irritations you live with in order to see what your body is telling you. For those who live with eczema,you know all too well that simply applying a remedy to your skin doesn’t help the root of the problem disappear; find the stress triggers that lead to the itching and discomfort to do your best to eliminate the habits that cause it.
It can be something as simple as eating the wrong kind of foods, or something more complex like staying in a toxic relationship. Let your illness teach you how to tune in with your true needs and craft your own self-care plan to minimize the triggers.
Discover what makes you happy.
On your journey to self-discovery through illness, you’ll come across many activities that you’ll find soothing and refreshing. Whether it’s dancing, coloring, painting, singing, cooking or meditation (or a combination of any of those things), make some time in your daily schedule for those healing hobbies. Use them as your emergency “heal pills” for when your disease becomes particularly difficult to handle. Let your mind escape to that happy place to rediscover simple pleasures despite your condition.
Expand your horizons.
Have you ever been to Sicily? The Mediterranean treasure trove of Italian cuisine, historic landmarks and stunning coastal views is somewhat of an Earth-bound paradise every living soul dreams of visiting at least once in their lifetime. If you think that it would be impossible to embark on such a long journey with, for example, kidney disease, think again –with a bit of planning and preparation, you can cross this gem off your bucket list in no time.
In fact, you can find your dialysis treatment abroad in numerous cities scattered across the world and make sure that you are in safe hands during your travels,so that your illness is under control. Pair that with your own self-care plan,travel insurance, proper nutrition and a contingency health plan you can devise with your physician, and you should be ready to explore the world.
Focus on what you can control.
One of the most difficult aspects of living with a chronic illness is accepting that your condition might be permanent. However, while you may not be able to completely eradicate the issue (yet!), chances are that there are various, very important aspects of your life that have an impact on how you feel and manage your disease that you can control. For starters, your diet,your exercise regime and your environment are all relevant factors that can affect your overall ability to cope and overcome.
Instead of dwelling on the aspects of your life you cannot change for the time being, why don’t you do your best to perfect the portions of your life that you can? Don’t relinquish any more control of your life than your illness has already claimed. Perhaps you cannot avoid the medication and physical treatment your illness requires, but you can certainly make a difference by focusing on productive ways to spend your time, not stressing over something you cannot change.
Learn to say no.
Taking care of yourself means investing time, energy, and care into everything you do. Sometimes, you’ll find yourself having just enough to go through the day, with people flooding you with their requests and expectations. More often than not, people who haven’t been in your shoes can never fully understand to what extent you need to adjust your everyday life to feel good. That is precisely why you should never feel bad for rejecting their offers and suggestions.
If you’re not in the mood for an outing, have no energy to go to a birthday party, or you cannot spend an entire day in a shopping escapade, say how you feel and don’t allow guilt to overwhelm you. Remember that in order to be able to provide support to those you love, you first need to be your own pillar of reliance and resilience.
Every little positive decision you make today will shape your tomorrow. There will be days when your illness seems like an unconquerable peak, but they will only confirm what you already know deep down: resilience is built on adversity, so let your own challenges shape you into the powerful,life-loving creature that you already are.
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