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The Power of Saying 'No' When You're Chronically Ill

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“No.” Two letters, one word – yet probably one of the most difficult things to say. When chronically ill you may find yourself wanting to add this to your vocabulary more and more, but the thing is, people around you may not be used to hearing it and you might immediately find yourself facing confrontation instead of understanding.

One thing I’ve learned is that self-care, more often then not, is viewed as self-indulgent. For whatever reason, as a society, we’ve begun glorifying the neglection of ourselves. We’ve slowly been chipping away at our weekends and evenings, and don’t consider ourselves successful unless we’re constantly on the go. Down time has been replaced with screen time and relaxation has been replaced with hustle.

But we’re not all in a position where this busy lifestyle is desired or even an option – sometimes the daily chores associated with living are all we can handle, and you know what? There’s a benefit to this.

They say you can’t fill from an empty cup, yet most of the people I know have been running on empty for years. Today I got to experience an exercise in mindfulness at a work function and I couldn’t believe how many people were uncomfortable taking just two minutes to themselves. Immediately I noticed as people began to fidget and check their watches undoubtedly thinking about all the things they could be accomplishing during this time.

When I reflect on my life I’m sure I won’t be thinking of the tasks I accomplished at work, or the deal I got at the store, or even the number of parties I attended. I’ll be thinking of the smaller moments of pure joy and bliss. I’ll probably wish I had a few more cups of coffee and a few more porch swings, but certainly not projects or deadlines.

Being chronically ill has taught me so much, but the lesson I’d most like to share with the outside world is that our time on earth is not a given, and it shouldn’t be taken for granted. Sometimes saying no and choosing the path of rest and relaxation is absolutely necessary. While the rest of the world may be operating at lightning speed, it’s OK to stay in the right hand lane going at your own pace. This might cause some friction with those around you, but I guarantee in the end it will be the best decision you make for yourself; which while a novel concept to most, really should be everyone’s top priority

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Gettyimage by: Sam Edwards

Originally published: January 24, 2018
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