6 Habits to help you live with chronic illness
At this time of year, people are looking at the year ahead and making resolutions about the changes that they want to make. In my experience, this idea of change in the new year doesn’t always work. 2017 was a very mixed year for me, as I mentioned in my last post, it had its ups and its downs. With this in mind, I would like to concentrate on what I learned in 2017. This is what I learned:
- Meditate and journal – daily
- Life changes
- Be brave
- Take positive action
- Look for opportunities
Meditate and journal
Meditating and journaling is part of my routine. 5 days every week I head to my ‘cave’ after breakfast and coffee and I spend at least 20 minutes meditating, followed by writing in my journal. This has contributed significantly to my peacefulness, and it has helped me feel gratitude for the positive things in my life. A simple act of sitting quietly for 20 minutes, and then purging my brain using a pen, onto paper, has such a positive impact on my mental health. Despite the negative impact of my headaches and MS, I can feel happiness in the day. These positive points in my day, help. This is something that I will continue to practice.
We all like to think that we have control over our lives, over our destiny. Then suddenly something happens that is unexpected, surprising. In the last year, my MS symptoms have become worse, particularly my mobility. This has had an impact on my ability to do my work, which involves a lot of walking. At the start of the year this was not a major issue, now it is. I have learned that I need to adapt to these changes, rather than rebel against them. This leads to a calmness, that is much better for me physically, and importantly, mentally.
Writing about how my headaches and MS impact me was only for me at the start of the year. Now I am writing about this on a blog, very publicly. When I started this blog I was worried about what people would think of me, would their perception of me change. It was scary, and despite this, I decided to start. The one thing that I promised myself would be that I would be completely honest about how chronic illness impacts my life, and the strategies that I use to live with these conditions. The benefits have been much greater than I expected, and so I will continue to be brave.
Take Positive action
There are many negatives when you have a chronic illness. For me, the pain in my head is one, and fatigue is the second. They follow me everywhere, and it is easy to use both of them as an excuse not to do something. One action that I need to do regularly is to exercise. Walking, or some physical movement. There were days when it took a supreme effort to get out of bed in 2017. I Learned that when I did, I felt better physically and mentally. 2018 could be even more difficult, but I will continue to challenge myself to do take the positive action.
One of my biggest challenges is to listen to what other people have to say. I mean really listen. The biggest obstacle that I have is that my headaches cause me to lose focus, and distract me from actually hearing what is being said. It takes a huge effort. When I do listen and understand what is being said, I learn. This is something that I will endeavour to do better this year, and to learn more, even if it is difficult.
Look for opportunities
As someone with a few chronic illnesses, it could be safe to assume that there are very few opportunities that can present themselves to you. It would be easy to just succumb to the despair of illness. In the last 12 months, I was presented with a few opportunities that I have pursued. Heather from Dinosaurs, donkeys and MS had a Twitter post looking for people to interview on her first DizzyCast (a podcast about MS) and I said that I would love to be involved. There have been 2 episodes already, and it has been well received. I took the chance. (See DizzyCast Ep.1 and DizzyCast Ep.2)
There were other chances that I took that did not amount to anything, it is a numbers game. You have to take the risk, otherwise, you will never get the reward.
I do not know what will happen in 2018, but I feel that if I continue to follow these principles I will be ok, and maybe, in a better place than I am today. These habits are helping me, and hopefully, they might help you.
DisclaimerAs I am not a medical doctor, or other member of the medical profession, I cannot give medical advice. In this post I am letting you know what works for me. Only change what you do, to help you cope with your illness, after discussing it with a qualified medical practitioner.