Having a chronic illness of any kind can make each day a challenge. To get up and do what the average person does usually requires a lot more energy, as well as motivating pep talks to yourself.
I firmly believe that we were not put on this earth to just live our day-to-day lives struggling. I think each of us has a significant reason for being here. We were not born to just live, but to thrive. And even though you have a special set of circumstances in your life that makes moving through habitual tasks difficult at times, there are still ways you can live your life to the fullest.
Here are some simple tips to thrive with a chronic illness:
- Get up every day at the same time and move, regardless of how you may feel. Just getting up, moving your body, and grabbing a bite are all that you need at times to feel like a somewhat fully functioning adult.
- Make to-do lists! Making a list and following it each day will help to keep you on track. Pick three things that absolutely need to be accomplished each day, and focus on them. If you can do more, great; if not, don’t sweat it. Celebrate what you can accomplish! Personally I find making a list in the evenings for what I want to accomplish the next day to be the most effective, but everyone is different. Find a system that works for you.
- When you start to feel like you’re fading, switch your scenery and move your body. If you’re sitting in an office, get up and take a break if you can. Walk for two minutes. Getting the blood pumping through your body with a little light activity can bring about renewed energy. Movement is so important for everyone, but especially those with a chronic illness. One thing on which ALL doctors agree: inactivity does not help anyone. Even if it’s a two-minute walk around your office, make a concerted effort to move more.
- Drink plenty of water. The claims are not hype. It’s amazing what happens to our body when it gets dehydrated. Even more amazing – how quickly dehydration can happen.
- Eat clean and avoid processed food. The adage “you are what you eat” has never been truer. Stay away from sugar. Find some healthy substitutes for your favorite food. If you keep a food diary, you can see clearly how some food impacts your symptoms. The most common culprits are sugar, wheat/gluten, dairy, corn and soy. Replace those snacks with something healthy. You’ll thank yourself!
- Surround yourself with supportive people. If you find yourself trying to defend your condition or symptoms to people in your life, it will drain your resources on many levels. If this person is not a family member, begin the process of putting some distance between you. But what if they ARE a family member? Consider taking them to a doctor appointment with you. If that doesn’t work, do your best to keep your distance. You can only change yourself – no one else.
- Mind your thoughts! What you think, you become. Take note of the thoughts running through your mind. When you wake up in the morning, is the first thought “Wow. My head hurts. How am I going to get everything done today?” Or is it, “Okay, I’ve got a headache. Time to get up and moving and kick this to the curb. I’ve got things to do. I am stronger than this headache!” It’s all how your frame it.
What I have found is that it’s all in the attitude. You must hold on to positivity with every last ounce of commitment. Negative energy, negative people – all of those things make it exponentially harder to get through your day.