3 Ways to Thrive With Chronic Illness Amidst Despair
How does one become a thriver? You know, someone that thrives despite unfortunate circumstances. Thrive: to grow, progress, succeed, flourish regardless of any diverse situations.
When you are not thriving, I believe you are wilting. Stagnant. Lackluster.
If you are in the midst of a chronic illness, recovering from one, or just dealing with daily responsibilities like a zombie, you may not feel like thriving. But as you may or may not know, leading a thriving life necessitates effort. It’s easy to live a miserable life, remain in a rut and allow circumstances to dictate our destiny. I believe we are here on this planet for a reason and each one of us has a purpose, a unique, beautiful one. But we can’t do it alone.
Here are three ways I thrive, however disastrous or hopeless the situation:
1. Support. This is huge. This can be friends, family, support groups, God or whatever your religious or spiritual preference. I cannot leave out the medical professionals! Let’s not forget healers, massage therapists, yoga teachers, wise gurus and experts in nutrition. This list can go on and on. When I first learned that I needed to be gluten-free, I took cooking classes, bought cookbooks, attended events, gluten-free expos and consulted with experts in that field. When I needed some healing time, I went to retreats. The Berkshires is one of my favorite places to go inward. I rest, meditate, do yoga and feed on the most decadent, nutritious meals. I always leave feeling rejuvenated and clear.
I found that the support is there — I just have to seek it. Ask for it. Be open to it.
2. Gratitude. Wherever I am in my journey of life, battling a new diagnosis, dealing with a loss, looking for employment, money issues,or a recent breakup, I believe this is a key component to bringing goodness and so much more into my life. For example, if I am anguished over a breakup, I can think of 12 things to be grateful for about that relationship. Maybe it was something I learned from that person. Every experience comes with a lesson, possibly even making you stronger. I believe there is always something to be grateful for.
This is my daily practice — to me it is like prayer: Say or write down my 12 gratitudes while walking, while I meditate or during my morning commute. I recommend buying a gratitude journal or write them in your phone. Even if life is good, be grateful. Being in this space allows for more good to continue to bless my life. Aside from meditation, I will recite my 12 gratitudes every morning, at times in my journal. It fills me with grace, acknowledgement and thankfulness. It’s all a gift.
3. Pleasure. This can be a hard one for some of us. Women can be the ultimate nurturers and many times we put our needs last. We may become run down, worn out, and eventually we may become resentful. Pleasure can mean so many things. What is fun for you? What hobbies have you missed doing? Even sitting for an hour reading a new book with your favorite music in the background, and a hot cup of tea. How about going to see a movie, a little spa time, or even a 10-minute chair massage, going out with a friend you haven’t seen in a while, a manicure/pedicure, or a walk in nature. It doesn’t have to be elaborate or expensive.
These days if something is not fun, I won’t do it. Plain and simple. Or I find a way to make it fun. I add music, add a friend to the situation, go to the nearest bakery or frozen yogurt place. Delayed at the airport? Rather than going ballistic with the airline, I get two hours to catch up on my favorite book, get a chai tea, get comfortable and maybe catch up on the tabloids. I also get to do a little shopping at the airport, or even write in my mini journal that I travel with. I recommend getting a small one that contains only positive affirmations, your gratitudes, your desires, quotes you love or even make a list of places you want to visit and plan the itinerary.
Follow this journey on Margaret Romero.
The Mighty is asking the following: What’s the hardest thing you deal with as someone with a chronic illness, and how do you face this? What advice and words of support would you offer someone facing the same thing? If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to [email protected] Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.