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10 Simple Ways to Make Your Journey With Chronic Illness Easier

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Living with an illness or disability can be life-changing. It can cause changes in relationships, employment, and disturb any sense of “normalcy.” It definitely comes with its own set of unique difficulties and challenges.

However, from my perspective, it’s necessary to try and find joy in the journey.

The feelings that you may feel are not always clear when you’re living with a disability. You or your loved ones may deal with doubt, loss, or lack of understanding. The journey of life for those who have an illness also can bring hope, joy and positivity.

I’ve found these tips to be helpful in my journey while living with illness, and I hope you’ll consider them too.

1. Be active in your care. Becoming an active participant in your care can aid you to receive the best treatment possible. It is important that your physicians and medical professionals always know your concerns and questions. Being active in your care can help you to understand your course of treatment and decrease unwanted stressors. It is important to voice your thoughts, feelings and opinions. Your perspective as a patient is a vital contribution.

2. Seek support. Sharing your experiences and perspective with others can be an opportunity to help yourself heal. Seeking support can involve talking to a friend or family member, and these people can walk alongside you throughout your journey.

Joining a local support group or an online support group may provide you with comfort. This can help you connect with others from various places. A local support group may provide you with information and help you feel less alone. You may be able to gain local information about your illness, treating physicians, or additional support networks.

3. Live a healthy lifestyle. A well-maintained diet can help to improve your lifestyle. A diet may not be the cure to your diagnosis, but it could help prevent problems from occurring in the future. Shifting to a healthier lifestyle can improve your overall well-being. To do this, you can try buying organic food, going gluten-free, improving portion control and/or eliminating or limiting alcoholic beverages. Cutting the negatives out of your life can truly make a difference.

Exercising may not always be easy if you are dealing with chronic pain or have a restricted treatment plan. It is important to adjust your healthy lifestyle to meet your needs. Change does not have to be drastic, but it’s important to remember that even small steps count!

4. Embark on a spiritual journey. Having faith in a higher power can help provide healing to those who have an illness or a disability. It can be enlightening to have faith in something bigger than yourself. This option may not be for everyone. You may find comfort in praying or meditating. Taking time for yourself to engage in a spiritual journey can help you feel at ease with your body and mind. The benefits of becoming spiritual could help improve your physical symptoms.

5. Learn acceptance and find gratitude. There is a period of grievance people with disabilities go through when faced with their diagnosis. It is important to grieve, but also find acceptance in the trials that you may be facing. This may not be a process that happens overnight.

Finding gratitude in, in addition to being accepting of the circumstances happening in your life, can help you cope. Identifying and sharing the aspects of your life that you are grateful for can be to great benefit in your healing. When you are able to accept your illness or disability, then you can focus on other areas of your healthcare.

6. Find a hobby that brings you joy. Finding an activity or group to join can be a good way to cope when fighting an illness. Being a member of a team or finding something you enjoy away from the fight, can allow you to escape from your struggles. Being a part of something bigger than oneself is important in growing as a person and an intellectual.

It can be empowering to do something for others such as volunteering. Your hobby could include scrapbooking, baking, recreational sports team, joining religious groups, or yoga class. It doesn’t matter what your hobby is, but it is important to distance yourself from your diagnosis and keep some normalcy.

7. Write or read. Creating a diary or blog, or taking up reading can help you cope with living with your condition. You could write about your experience or feelings. Creating a log of your symptoms could also help your doctors see patterns in your daily life and this could result in better treatment options or management.

Creating a blog could inspire others who are going through similar situations. When you are feeling down, it can be helpful to read about and know someone else is going through a journey that is similar to yours. A blog like Patient Perspective might even be that aid for you.

8. Make an investment in your mental health. Your illness may be physical, but it can still have an impact on your mental health. Focus on staying positive and find ways to improve your well-being. Mental illness is often overlooked, but your mental health can contribute to your other health symptoms. It is a disservice to ignore or downplay your mental health. You better yourself by trying to take care of your mental health. Don’t be afraid to see a therapist if necessary, get a good night’s rest, and try to spend time with friends, family, or those you trust. It is not often that we take time for ourselves, but doing so can create a difference in our well-being. Surround yourself with the tools and resources that guide you in making an investment in your mental health.

9. Manage your medications and treatment regimen. Managing your medications and treatments will help you balance your symptoms. You may not have much control over your diagnosis, but it is key to staying on top of the things you do have control of to eliminate added stressors or symptoms.

To manage your medications, you may find it best to buy a pill organizer. Taking time out of your week to organize your medications can be the difference in feeling relief. Researching your condition or seeking treatment options that are not mainstream could benefit your health. When patients take control of their care and manage their medications an treatment, they may see positive results.

10. Try your best. Living with an illness or a disability is challenging. It brings unwanted circumstances that do not come with a guide. Someone living with a chronic condition once told me the best advice they would give to another warrior is, “You may be struggling or feel lost, but be proud of yourself each day as long as you try your best.” Try your best each day and be proud of who you are! Keep in mind, you will grow through what you go through.

This story originally appeared on The Patient Perspective

Originally published: March 23, 2019
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