We all want to be happy, energetic and engaged people, to explore new places or revisit old ones, to be active and entertained. Mostly, we want not to be bored, or stagnant. But when our illnesses act up, we can be left flat on our backs. We may be unable to go to the mailbox, let alone outside exploring. So how can we minimize feelings of sadness, frustration and fear of missing out? 1. Release the Guilt It’s all too common for the chronically ill to ruminate over our “bad” days, and disregard the need for rest and recovery. Even the most able-bodied, healthy individuals need rest, so when your pain comes a knocking, don’t answer the door with anger. If you begin an already challenging day by blaming yourself for that which is out of your hands, you ignore your mind/body’s cry to be nurtured. Flare-ups, though incredibly hard and limiting, have a message to share. 2. Don’t Skimp on Self-Care When you are too exhausted to stand, having violent back spasms or feel riddled with anxiety and fear, the last thing on your mind is using more energy you don’t have on something frivolous. However, the reality is counterintuitive – expending energy towards self-care becomes a necessity in these moments when we feel least capable of doing so. Bearing that in mind, we find our own special ways to show care towards ourselves. We drink the water. We take the medication. If we can stand, we take the shower. If we can’t, we give ourselves a mini-massage. 3. Find Activities You Can Handle One surefire way to escape feelings of boredom, or being trapped in the midst of a bad flare-up, is to identify the activities you enjoy that are still possible when you are not able to function normally. This can take the shape of many things: picking up that one novel you never quite managed to finish. Breaking out the gel pens and going to town on some scrap paper. Propping yourself up with pillows and writing a story, just for the sake of creating something. We can surprise ourselves with our ability to be creative, even at the points of our lowest lows. 4. Try and Stay Connected If there is one compounding factor I have observed that can make a bad flare-up worse, it’s loneliness. We can work ourselves up into a state of deep angst, pushed even further with thoughts of being alone. The chronically ill are frequently misunderstood, and we can feel further isolated when we are stranded in our beds, marooned on Flare-Up Island. If possible, invite a friend over that you are comfortable being unwell around. Call up a parent, or a sibling, and just catch up. If talking or being with others is not realistic, social media can be utilized in a positive way, allowing you to feel some sense of connectedness to those you care about. If you live with others, don’t be ashamed of your flare, but rather be open, and share it with them. Most people are more willing to keep us company than we realize. 5. Put It in Perspective At the end of the day, we will all have some very good days, and some very bad ones. When you begin to sense your thoughts spiraling in a negative direction, remind yourself that you have made it through every single flare-up you’ve faced so far, with perfect success. Flare-ups, while universally resented by those who must endure them, do not doom you to a day wasted. We must remember that each day, each challenging day, is precious.