Dealing with any type of ailment can be difficult but coping with a chronic illness can be particularly challenging. When you to need to modify your lifestyle in response to ill health, it’s easy to feel depressed and demotivated. However, there are ways to enhance your life when you’re dealing with a long-term illness.
To start making positive changes today, take a look at these health and wellness tips for the chronically ill:
Understand Your Diagnosis
Unfortunately, it can take years for people with a chronic illness to obtain a diagnosis, but, even then, it can still come as a shock. In the days and weeks following a diagnosis, you’ll experience a range of emotions, such as fear, worry, anxiety and maybe even relief. Afterall, now you know exactly what you’re dealing with, you can learn more about the illness that’s affecting you. This gives you back your power and only you to make positive lifestyle changes, so take all the time you need to really understand your diagnosis.
Accept the Situation
Knowing there’s currently no cure for your condition can be tough to accept. In fact, many people spend years trying to ‘beat’ a chronic illness. However, this approach can take up an extraordinary amount of your time and energy, often with disappointing results. Accepting your illness allows you to work with your body, rather than against it and gives you peace of mind too.
Use Nutrition to Minimise Symptoms
When you’re feeling down or fed up, it’s easy to cheer yourself up with a little junk food or a few sweet treats. However, excess sugar and fat can increase inflammation in the body, which often exacerbates the symptoms of chronic illnesses. Furthermore, junk food can cause a short-term high, followed by a swift crash. Embracing a healthy diet is beneficial for everyone but it’s particularly advantageous if have a chronic illness. By using nutrition to enhance your well-being, you may be able to minimise your symptoms, boost your energy and enhance your mood.
Retain Your Independence
If you’re dealing with a chronic illness, you may need to rely on other people for support and assistance. Many people find giving up their independence hard to deal with, so try to retain as much control as you can. Joining the Motability & PIP scheme could enable you to access a modified vehicle so that you’re able to continue driving, for example. Alternatively, making changes to your home could make it easier for you to get around without assistance. While no-one should feel ashamed for needing help, retaining as much independence as possible can help you to feel more in control of your illness and your life.
Learn Your Triggers
Understanding your diagnosis is only part of the education people with chronic illness require. As well as knowing what your diagnosis means in medical terms, you need to learn how it affects you as an individual. Knowing which symptoms affect you most frequently, as well as what their triggers are, can help you to make effective lifestyle changes, for example. Additionally, recognising the aspects of your condition that bother you the most can help you to make meaningful changes and retain the aspects of your life you really cherish.
Explore New Hobbies
If your illness has made it difficult to keep up with your usual pastimes, explore other hobbies and find something that interests you. Activities you can do from home or those which don’t require exertion, such as blogging, needlecraft or watercolour painting, can be great options. These allow you to immerse yourself in a hobby that interests you, learn a new skill and provide distraction when your symptoms are flaring up.
Many people miss out on relationships and friendships when they’re dealing with a chronic illness. If you can’t travel easily or unable to leave the house for long periods of time, for example, you may miss out on social events and get-togethers. However, staying connected with the people you care is about is an important way of enhancing your well-being. If you’re unable to see people face-to-face right now, use video chat, phone calls and even regular mail to stay in touch.
Start a Fitness Regime
Exercise can be a good way of dealing with the symptoms of a chronic illness, providing it’s approved by your doctor. Working with a physiotherapist or personal trainer can be an effective way of learning what types of exercise are best suited to your needs. Low impact activities, like swimming, might be ideal, or light weight training could help you to regain muscle strength. By setting realistic targets and taking things slowly, you can use fitness to help boost your mood and optimise your physical health.
Mindfulness and meditation can be used to relieve anxiety and stress at any time, which makes them great activities for people with chronic illness. If you’re struggling to accept your diagnosis or your frustrated that you’ve had to change your plans again, a few minutes of mindfulness or meditation can help you to let go of anger, resentment and disappointment and channel it into a more positive mindset instead.
Advocate for Yourself
No-one knows you better than you know yourself, so use this insight to become your own advocate. It can be hard to access treatment for a chronic illness, for example, so you may need to push for referrals or be patient while you’re on a waiting list. Similarly, other people may find it hard to accept your condition, so don’t be afraid to educate people and correct them when they make incorrect assumptions.
Learning to Live with Chronic Illness
Although no-one would choose to live with chronic illness, there are ways to reduce the impact it has on your happiness. By learning to accept the situation, you can throw your efforts into enhancing your life instead. With a combination of medical guidance, support from friends and family, and your own inner strength, you can optimise your health and well-being and enjoy a renewed sense of optimism and contentment.