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11 Things People With Chronic Illnesses Need to Do

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My goal is to show how you can live positively despite chronic illness. We may be ill, but that doesn’t mean we can’t be happy.

1. Say no.

“Just say no.” It’s more than a slogan. Unfortunately, it’s an ability many of us simply don’t seem to have. One issue I believe many of us with fibromyalgia have is that we’ve said yes to everything our whole life. It’s OK to say no. You don’t have to be everything to everyone.

2. Prioritize your own needs.

You are important and need to treat yourself that way. Even if you have to schedule time for yourself in your calendar, do it. Do whatever you have to do to find a way to include time for yourself in every day — even if it’s just taking 15 minutes to meditate.

3. Spend time with the right people.

Who are the people who make you happy? The people who give you energy and not take it away? These are the people who you need to spend time with. Find a way to make that happen.

4. Accept yourself as you are.

Your life has changed, so it’s time to accept it. Once you’ve taken time to grieve what you’ve lost, it’s time to focus on what you still have and move forward in your new life.

5. Release the past.

Holding on to the guilt and fear of the past is one of the worst things we can do. So is getting stuck in the loop of regretting the life you used to have. Get counseling if you need to, but find a way to release the past and move forward.

6. Live in the moment.

Each moment has something valuable, so focus on the beauty in it. When you are limited, it’s all the more important to take some time, each day, to think about what is still there and enjoy the little things.

7. Be honest.

Be honest with yourself and with others. Don’t say you feel great or OK when you don’t. No one can help you if they don’t know you need help, and they’ll never know if you always tell them you feel good.

8. Focus on what you want.

We move in the direction of our eyes. If we look towards what we actually want in life, we are more likely to get it. Focus on the positive and think happy thoughts. If nothing else, it will help to reduce stress.

9. Control the things you can and release the rest.

You can’t control everything, so only worry about the things you can control. Whether it’s your diet, taking time to rest or spending time with family, focus on the things you can do to make yourself feel better. If you can’t control it, let it go.

10. Ask for help.

Rarely do people help others without being asked first. Don’t let your pride get in the way of getting the help you need. Whether it’s a friend to watch your children for a day, a ride to the doctor because you just can’t drive that day or just a hug from a friend, don’t be afraid to ask. In addition to asking for help, you also need to learn to accept help when it’s offered. For some reason, help for ourselves is the one time we are more than willing and able to say no. But it’s the one time we need to say yes.

11. Be grateful.

Above all else, be grateful. Be grateful for the small things and the big things. Be grateful for the life you had and the life you will still have. Be grateful for the time you had with things you may have lost and be grateful for the things that can never be taken away.

It seems like many of these can be summed up with that last one. Be grateful for the little things and the big things, even for the pain. Because without it, we wouldn’t appreciate the wonderful days when we feel great.

Follow this journey on Counting My Spoons.

Lead photo source: Thinkstock Images


Fibromyalgia, a chronic illness with three main symptoms — widespread pain, chronic fatigue and cognitive trouble. Fibromyalgia is a complicated illness that’s not well understood. In the past, it was mischaracterized as a mental health disorder. Even today, some doctors wave off fibro symptoms as being “all in your head.” This isn’t the case. Read The Mighty’s comprehensive guide to fibromyalgia here. Click here to join our fibro community and connect with people who get it.

Originally published: December 20, 2015
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