Staying positive can be a challenge when dealing with chronic illness. It’s easy to fall into a trap of feeling like the world is working against you. When my health issues started, I felt like the universe was holding me back from achieving my greatest ambitions. One day I realized it was quite the opposite. In fact, this illness that I had come to hate started to make life more meaningful. I was becoming grateful for basic functions, seeing the sunshine, and having a roof over my head. These aren’t small things and yet when we are “perfectly normal” they seem like a given. Being grateful is one way to take back life. If you need a little pick me up here are some quick tips to stay more positive.
- Being Grateful
Gratitude is a magnificent thing. Being grateful can change the way we think about life. My suggestion is to take ten minutes out of your day, five in the morning and five at night and write down five things you are grateful for. It could be a good night’s sleep or a cup of coffee. When we start to acknowledge these little joys in life the world will start to develop more color. Suddenly, life will become brighter.
- Say Thank you
This goes hand and hand with being grateful. There are so many people that surround us everyday who care for us. Two words seem minimal but think about how you feel when you are underappreciated. I find that with my care team, saying thank you goes a long way. People often go throughout their work day getting yelled at or told what they do wrong. How often do we stop and address what they’re doing right. Two words can make a person’s day and seeing their face light up will make your day.
- Find Purpose
When life gives us challenges it’s difficult to identify the reason. Whether you believe in God or the universe or nothing at all, finding purpose is vital. I believe, the universe has trusted me with this illness. Knowing that I will share my experience and be strong enough to persevere. I’ve always wanted to help people and identifying why and how has given my illness purpose in my life.
- Set Goals
Setting goals can be difficult with illness or in general. There are two types of goals Macro and Micro. Setting a Macro goal is great and gives your micro goals something to work towards. My personal macro goal is to run a marathon. My micro goal is to run, whenever I can. Some days that could be half a mile or on a good day, three miles and some days I can’t run. A micro goal could be showering. Chronic illness is difficult to deal with, reward yourself by making goals you can achieve. Checking off your to-do list can is satisfying.
- Find your Person
This could be your best friend, a family member, or someone you haven’t met yet. Finding a person to stand by you through difficult times can be vital to living a happy life. It’s important to have and be more than your illness, whenever i’m with my person, I am authentically myself. Not an illness, not a patient, me. If you’re having issues finding your person, speak out, you’d be shocked at who comes beside you to hold your hand. This brings me to my next point.
- Be Vulnerable
I’m not going to lie, I suck at this. It is the thing I find most challenging in my day to day life. I hate it. Despite this, I know it’s important. My therapist once told me that my energy felt like a pressure cooker, ready to explode at any minute. I’ve found that when I open up, let myself cry or explain what’s going on; some steam is released. Saying little things about how you are or what you’re experiencing can make the biggest difference. We’re in this together, because I need to work on this too.
I’ve found this to be extremely helpful. I try to meditate three times a day. First thing, when I wake up I do a gratitude practice. In the middle of the day, when I have time, I do a manifestation practice. At night, I fall asleep to a restorative meditation that leaves me well rested. This is what I’ve found for myself. Whether you do a guided meditation or sit in stillness for a couple minutes, this is an important time to listen to your body. It will tell you what it needs, if you are willing to listen. In times of great stress, I do a body scan. I try to identify what is going on in my body. This helps me to relay vital information to my doctors. As I keep in touch with my body, I can better describe what is going on.
- Go Outside
This is my favorite. I love being outside and connecting with nature. Feeling the sunshine on your face and basking in the beauty of the wilderness. Appreciate your surroundings. Not everyday is bright and shiny. When you take time to look up and accept the beauty in the day, you will be left feeling joyous. It’s cliche and overstated but storms help us to realize how nice it is to have sun. Also, vitamin D is vital to our body. Without sunshine we could become deficient leaving us feeling depressed or symptomatic.
- Do Something For Yourself
I recently started this. Appointments and maintaining your health can be a full time job. Once a day, I’ve started to pick an activity that is for me. Not to make me healthier, not because I should, just because I can. For me, this can be anything from painting to sewing. I need to be creative to feel whole. Finding those safe spaces in our days is a good time to destress.
- Take Pictures
It’s easy to forget the happiest and most joyful moments when they are amongst the difficult period we are in. Take photos, these will serve as reminders of all the good that comes from this period. Not everything is dark, it never is. There is always a bit of sunshine and these pictures will be a great memory of how much fun you can have. Take selfies, group photos, photos of your food, or photos of your dog. Anything that makes you feel fulfilled and happy. Capture these moments, these are the moments to remember.
I hope that you can take these suggestions and apply them to your own life. It’s difficult to implement a new regiment of ideas. Especially when they feel like a chore but pretty soon it will be a pattern. Your brain will adapt and start to cherish these little blurbs that you’ve added in to your life. Every day, I open my shades and say “Good Morning, Beautiful day.” Six months ago, I was angry at the world and struggling. Now, I can take challenges head on and be happy while doing it. Don’t get me wrong there are some sad, angry, and everything in between moments day to day, but all that matters is the overall trend of attitude. I don’t know about you, but I choose happiness.