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5 Mood-Boosters for Days When Chronic Illness Gets You Down

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If there’s one thing that most illness warriors have experienced, it’s the battle with the blues. Facing illness day after day gets tiring (to put it lightly). Emotionally and physically, we feel the drain of living with constant pain or debilitating symptoms.

Over the last few years of fighting Lyme disease, I’ve struggled with this a lot. With my illness demanding I spend the majority of my time at home, I’ve definitely had my share of what I’ll call “dread land.” Where the days run together and my heart just feels dry and achey.

Today I thought I’d share some of the things I’ve found that can help boost my mood on the days I’m feeling down. Some of these go out to my friends who often, like me, can’t leave the house — others are for the days we can manage to get outside, even if it calls for a bit of help.

1. I try something new.

The smallest of changes can cast some sunlight into the busiest or hardest of days or weeks. Do you have a favorite lunch spot? Try a new place! Hop online to read some restaurant reviews in your area and check out one of the top 10 fast-casuals in your area.

Is there an alternate route you can drive home? Take it. A simple change of scenery can be a breath of fresh air. If the weather’s nice, roll the windows down while you’re at it! For me, even when I’m at my sickest and stuck on the couch, simply trying out a new TV show or movie, picking up a good book or devotional, or listening to a podcast are my go-to mood boosters.

2. I write in a journal of gratitude.

Find a small pocket-sized notebook or journal for keeping a gratitude list. Commit to writing down at least one thing a day you are thankful for or something that brightened your day. If you like to draw, consider drawing a sketch of something that brightened your day.

At the end of the month, or when you’re feeling particularly down, spend a few minutes flipping through your pages. This one takes some determination on the really rough days, but has a beautiful way of bringing me perspective. It reminds me I have more in my life than just illness.

3. I spend time in nature.

Spending time in nature does wonders for the soul. Sometimes my husband and I will pack a lunch and head to our favorite park. Even on one of my harder Lyme days, just eating our lunch in the car with a view of the pond and trees makes my spirit and mood feel brighter. The change of view and connecting with God’s creation can be both restful and therapeutic.

Some days I’m not able to get outside, but I have found that nature documentaries on Netflix have been soothing to my often over-stimulated system. You can also scroll through Instagram hashtags of nature, outdoors, sunsets and find some beautiful shots!

man and woman in forest surrounded by trees
Kami and her husband in nature.

4. I spend time with someone who makes me happy.

Is there a face or two that come to mind as soon as you read that line? Spend some time with those people. Or get them on the phone for a chat. If they’re someone you can confide in, you might share how you’re feeling or what you’re going through. Just being heard can help lift the load and how you’re feeling. They might even be able to encourage you and your conversation with them can naturally brighten your perspective.

5. I reconnect with a hobby or passion.

Do you love writing? Are crafts or coloring your jam? Is your soul inspired through music? I was always “too busy” (aka too afraid) to start writing, but have loved and dreamed of it since I was young. Writing has now become a way I not only process my battle with Lyme, but it’s become a huge part of finding new purpose and pursuing new dreams in illness.

Reconnecting with something you love doing may be just the thing you need to get a dose of refreshment for your day. Pull out the coloring book, a notepad, yarn and knitting needles, create a new playlist on iTunes or invite someone to try a new simple recipe with you if you have the energy and ability.

While I don’t wish the blues on anyone, the reality is this: We all face them now and then, some of us more than others. And while these tips aren’t a cure for the depression many of us face, the heart of this post is to encourage us all to embrace some light in each day. To be gentle with ourselves and intentional with giving our soul a daily dose of nourishment.

I hope you remember you are strong and brave for fighting day after day. Keep inspiring, fellow warriors.

Follow this journey on Living Grace.

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 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.

Originally published: March 30, 2016
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