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11 Ways to Love Yourself and Your Illness Even When You Don't Feel Like It

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Struggling with the ups and downs of chronic illnesses is very tolling and can bring out the worst in you. Dealing with the isolation is something I have had to accept in these past six years of living with chronic illnesses. I have gone through such sadness, anger and feelings of loneliness during my bad spells. Those periods of time I could not get out of bed or feed myself. Bathing was too difficult so I would just skip a few days. I would have the coffee table lined with drinks and food, because getting off the sofa that day was nearly impossible. I have been housebound for months on end, losing sight of hope and freedom. I have been constantly tested on my mental strength, physical abilities, pain tolerance and emotional stamina.

Here in the Western world, we tend to think writing a prescription will cure the problem, but sometimes that method does not work. After I got fed up with seeing doctor after doctor and hearing their prescription pads tearing off yet another page for me to fill, I dug deeper into some Eastern ways of healing. Once I made the shift into paying attention more to my mind, body, and soul as a whole, I started to notice changes. I began to accept my chronically ill vessel and all it does for me. I began do acts of self-love each day. And mostly, I began to feel happy again.

I found that these 11 actions can really help me get through those rough days when I do not feel like showing love to myself.

1. Easy Morning — Start the morning out slowly with some hot tea to give you and your system a nice morning boost.

2. Vitamin D — Open up all the blinds in your home to let in as much natural light in as possible.  This “sunshine vitamin” can help uplift my spirits and brighten my day.

3. Zen — Roll out your yoga mat or some type of pad and gently stretch. Tune in with your body.  Stretch the areas that are aching and need some attention.

4. Hobby — Take up a new hobby like weaving, crochet or knitting. It can not only help with relaxation, but can also stimulate your brain.

5. Exercise — This can be very tough for chronically ill people, but I enjoy gentle movements such as pedaling on an exercise machine, which I can do from home and can be very therapeutic.

6. Acceptance — When a symptom happens, I change my thinking from negative to acceptance. Say you have a migraine and the pain is so bad you want to pull it out of your head. Take a few deep breaths and say to yourself, “I feel you, pain. I feel you are in my head. I accept you,” and breathe. Repeat as many times as you need to until you feel a calmness settle within you.

7. Giving Back — Find an organization you are passionate about that you can help from the comfort of your own home.

8. Expression — Find an outlet such as writing or painting that helps you express emotions you may not feel comfortable expressing to loved ones. Bottling up my emotions only harms the body further and creates more negative energy within.

9. Meditate — By shutting out the external world and stilling the body for less than half an hour each day, I can dramatically reduce my stress levels which play a huge role in wellness of the whole body. I recommend simply doing this five minutes each day and then increasing the time.

10. Relaxation —  Take a therapeutic bath with your favorite bath bomb, surround yourself with delicious smelling candles or defuse/apply essential oils such as lavender.

11. Give thanks — Before you close you close your eyes and drift to sleep, give thanks. You can either write down three things you are thankful that day or silently say them in your head. I believe by doing this small act regularly, you are helping yourself both mentally and physically.

Instead of hating yourself and where your life is, celebrate all the little victories you accomplished that day. It does not matter how big or small they are, but commend yourself for being able to change out of your pajamas or being able to go out to dinner with friends.

Love your chronically ill vessel and the positive things it gives to you.

Editor’s note: Any medical information included is based on a personal experience. For questions or concerns regarding health, please consult a doctor or medical professional.

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? Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

Originally published: June 1, 2016
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