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16 Ways to Get Through Days When It Feels Like Your Illness Is 'Winning'

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For many people living with chronic illnesses, there are some days when it just feels like your illness is “winning.” Maybe your pain is at a higher level than usual, or you feel stuck in a flare-up. On those days, your favorite self-care strategies may help remind you it’s OK to listen to your body’s needs and how strong you are for getting through these difficult times.

We asked our Mighty community to share what they do on the tough days when it feels like their illness is “winning.” From resting with “guilty pleasure” TV to doing something kind for someone else, this is what real people with chronic illness do cope during the hardest moments.

Here’s what the community told us:

1. “I try to give myself permission to respect the message my body is communicating to me and take a break from responsibilities (university work, household chores, chasing my toddler around). Sometimes the guilt is worse than the sickness.”

2. “I rest and try my best to relax. My heating pad is my best friend, and sometimes spending time with/talking to my family and boyfriend helps distract me. More than anything, I remind myself to ‘just breathe’ and hope that tomorrow will be better.”

3. “I talk about it with my family, whom I’m incredibly close with, and meditate (if I can). I forgive myself for having horrible days! I’m known for kicking myself in the teeth when I’m down because I feel like a burden and a failure. My family will squash out those thoughts with unconditional love and understanding. I count myself lucky to have the support I do.”

4. “I rest and binge-watch trashy TV, and try my hardest to remind myself I’m not lazy, I need the rest and that if I don’t rest and try to push through it, I’ll be out for much longer than if I had just rested.”

5. “I frequently remind myself, ‘You’ve gotten through every other day up until this point, you will make it through today too!’ Then I allow myself ‘creature comforts.’ I wear gloves inside without worrying what others think or say, I drink my coffee all day long, I take naps if I can and relax as much as possible.”

6. “I have a special (super easy) recipe for a paleo hot chocolate. I love it, it’s a comfort food, and it doesn’t contain anything that would flare me up even more, which is a hard combo to find! I reserve making it for days I’m really struggling and getting depressed over all I’m missing out on, to remind me there are still good things I can create and enjoy!”

7. “If the pain is not ‘off-the-charts,’ then I go downstairs to paint in my studio. I put relaxing music on and try to get lost in the process.”

8. “I do something kind for someone else. Taking a few minutes to get out of my self-pitying mindset and focusing on kindness and goodness helps reset my brain to a more positive place. Things like writing a note of encouragement to a friend, or buying a latte for the person in line behind me, or commenting something nice on social media… my illness will not win, love always wins.”

9. “I play on my Nintendo 3DS — Animal Crossing most of the time. When I’m too sick to accomplish anything, playing the game and doing the game tasks makes me feel a tad more useful. Even if it’s just a game.”

10. “I give my self small tasks to do, like getting out of bed, getting dressed, etc., and will generally reward myself with tea and maybe a cake on the weekends I spend in bed or not doing much at all.”

11. “When it feels like my illness is winning, I listen to instrumental music and watch things that make me laugh like the YouTubers called Game Grumps, or I watch anime on my phone.”

12. “Today I’m having significant hip pain… I’ve been wanting to get my hair cut so I treated myself! I also bought a small candy treat. Now I’m exhausted and am topping it off with snuggling with my kitty and a nap!”

13. “I let myself have a moment of complete failure, I cry, I may yell, but then I pick myself up and tell myself over and over that I just have to get through today. Just one more day.”

14. “I binge-watch the TV show ‘Friends’ all over again. And either read my book out loud or draw. I like to do charcoal cause getting messy with artwork is like letting my chaos get everywhere without a care.”

15. “Guided meditations. They help me refocus my energy to push through the pain. YouTube has a lot of options.”

16. “Dance. Even when it hurts and the last thing I want to do is move, I dance. I dance with my full body or arms or just head. Getting energy from music is incredibly powerful.”


Originally published: March 16, 2017
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