What I learnt when I became chronically ill
1. Self Love is extremely important. Be gentle with yourself as your body and mind are going through enough. Take time to rest without feeling guilty. If we are not able to function then we are no good to anyone! This is harder said than done but if you can start to master this it really will start to show. Practising gratitude can help you to practise self-love. Start by thinking about all the things you are grateful for about yourself: your achievements, the things you do for others, the relationships you have, how you have made it through the day.
2. Finding something that makes you Feel Good is key. I have always loved creativity yet I was rarely able to fit it into my hectic schedule. Becoming poorly has enabled me to explore different things. I started doodling whilst in hospital simply as a way to pass time. I discovered it helped to take my mind off my pain and my I felt extremely content afterwards. This intrigued me so I researched and found out that when you do something you love it releases Endorphins which are the bodies natural pain relief. Studies have shown that they can be just as effective as morphine.
3. Do nice things for others. I gave my doodles away to people who had helped me on my journey; doctors, nurses, the lady in the bed next to me, friends, family and complete strangers! This has helped me to Feel Good about myself and made me release when you focus your attention on others you start to feel better about yourself. Making Random Acts of Kindness has helped me to get out of the house and think about where I can leave them.
4. You see the world differently. Things that once mattered no longer seem important. You become grateful for the things you once took for granted. I often joke, be careful what you wish for, make sure you are specific… I had always wished to be able to give up work early, but not through illness!
5. Finding a community to belong to is vitally important. When you become poorly you often lose touch with people as you are not able to do the things you once did. Online groups have helped me as I have been able to connect with other people in similar situations, The Tarlov Cyst UK Support Group is one of them. Likewise, becoming involved with different community events has connected me to a new mix of people. It has also empowered me to create Feel Good community events with the help of the Feel Good Ambassadors. I am also involved with The Self Care Social – a group of people who love to meet up to think about how we can create a culture of connected self-care in Coventry.
6. Gentle activity helps to keep you moving. Start off taking small steps – think about the things you can do on a good day and on a bad day. Creating a habit of daily stretching helps the body to unwind the tensions that build up when you have pain. If you can go for a walk do try, getting out into the fresh air helps to increase the Feel Good chemicals likewise walking has many benefits. Just start off small and if you can invite a friend to walk and talk with you. swimming is also another good way to get moving – just take it easy, start off by floating, walking and moving around in the water. Each time you go listen to your body and try something new. Check out my sister’s blog about the swim and tonic movement for some inspiring stories.
Over to you…
What helps you to stay positive when your health is failing? Would love to find out…
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