Living with chronic illness impacts one’s physical, psychological, emotional, and spiritual well-being. Living with chronic illness often causes one to feel helpless and hopeless, discouraged and isolated. It can devastate one’s career and financial security, friendships and love relationships, creativity, concentration, motivation, and one’s very peace of mind.
It is important now and useful long-term, to remain as active, social, and productive as possible. That means focus on what you can do and let go of what you can no longer do. Create priorities for your body, mind, heart, and soul.
Ancient philosophers and healers recognized that the body and the mind were one. Modern research confirms this body/mind connection. In the last 15 years, Western medicine has coined a term for what the ancients knew: psychoneuroimmunology. Harvard Medical School now publishes a professional journal called Mind/Body Medicine. Studies show that improved physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being stimulate an innate healing response in the body. It is possible to create a healthier lifestyle that will promote wellness. The key is to balance the physical, psychological, emotional, and spiritual aspects of your life.
Improving and maintaining physical well-being includes proper nutrition, rest, and exercise. It means carefully selecting the activities in which you participate and the people with whom you spend time to ensure that you are making good choices about expending energy and making the most of each day.
Paying attention to the psychological and emotional aspects of your life includes becoming a good observer of your thoughts, feelings, and how/what you feel in your body. This is a time to allow yourself to experience, examine, and express your thoughts and feelings in an honest and forthright way.
Accurately expressing yourself is one of the most important aspects of living with chronic illness. No one will know how you feel and what you can reasonably be expected to do or not do unless you tell people directly. Value yourself and take ownership of your feelings, and thoughts, your resources and choices.
Honor and express your deepest truth and make what you say and how you say it match what you feel. Say your real “yes” and your real “no” and say what you feel without blaming or needing to please others. Don’t avoid saying what is in your heart or on your mind to say. Don’t hide your worries and concerns because you don’t want others to know you are not in control.
Accessing your spiritual nature can be as easy as watching the sunset or taking a walk through a beautiful garden. You might also consider meditation, yoga, chanting, or praying. Whether you call it God, the Universe, higher power, or “the force” a la Steven Spielberg, it is quite comforting and healing to experience the inner peace that is uniquely you.
Sitting in the quiet and allowing your attention to flow inward is very foreign to men and women in the Western world. It is, however, a fundamental practice if one is to develop and maintain health and well-being, inside and outside.
Human beings are resilient and adaptable. When faced with seemingly insurmountable tasks, we rise to the occasion. Chronic illness often motivates us to re-evaluate and reconsider every aspect of life; to review and change habits, goals, choices, and decisions.
This review includes everything from food choices, career/work, social relationships and recreational activities, to including naps and going to sleep earlier. Now is the time to create a more flexible schedule and intentionally pace yourself.
Determination and persistence will enable you to stay motivated through the tough times, and stay involved in activities that are meaningful and joyful. Maintaining your sense of humor is essential.
Invite people into your life who are kind, respectful, and compassionate. Stay away from well-meaning, well-intentioned people who have an agenda for you and can’t see you or hear you accurately.
This is the opportunity to create the changes in your life that will bring meaning to every day and cause you to choose and maintain a lifestyle that promotes and sustains your well-being: physical, psychological, emotional, and spiritual.
While chronic illness may close some doors, it will no doubt open others. Take good care! You’re worth it.
Remember, only YOU can make it Happen!