3 Ways to Start Thriving Despite Chronic Illness

3 Ways to Start Thriving Despite Chronic Illness
Living with a chronic illness like Rheumatoid Arthritis, fibromyalgia, or Lupus can present many challenges. When you have been given a diagnosis, it is easy to feel like your life is over, like you are filled with grief, or that you don't know how you will continue to live the life that you wanted. We can be left feeling helpless, afraid, and depressed. As someone who was diagnosed with a chronic illness when I was 24, I totally can relate to many of the struggles that you are currently experiencing. I also know things can get better and that there are more resources than just "taking a pill and living with it." Today, I'd like to share 3 of my top tips to support you in beginning to regain control of your health and your life, so that you can begin to move towards thriving again. 1. Your mindset has tremendous power. The thoughts we think on a regular basis actually influence the different chemicals our bodies are creating and so if we are constantly thinking "I'll never get better" or "This is so miserable," our bodies respond with a cascade of chemicals to mirror this. The work of Dr. Candace Pert (particularly the book "Molecules of Emotion") documents the way that this occurs in our bodies physiologically. If instead, we think things like "I'm resilient" or "My body is getting stronger," our bodies release different chemicals to mirror this as well. So how can you begin to shift your thoughts on a daily basis? My tip is to write down some of the thoughts you find running through your head regularly and to then find a replacement belief for it. Try and make the replacement belief realistic. Don't go from "I'm so miserable and I don't know how I'm going to manage this" to "My life is fantastic and I am healthier than I can believe." Think instead of a smaller step of something like, "Every day I take one little step towards feeling better" or "Every day my body heals a little more." 2. Our words also have tremendous power. How we talk about our state of health or our illness also shapes our reality. If you constantly are saying "I have X disease," those words have tremendous power. You literally are CLAIMING the disease as part of your identity. I try to avoid using words like "I have ___" or "My ___ (diagnosis)" because I know the power of that language. I completely understand it can be difficult to speak about a diagnosis without those words (I struggle to find replacements at times) but try and find your own creative ways that don't claim it. My replacement tends to be "I have been diagnosed with ___ but my body is continually healing" so that I hold space for healing, not just the diagnosis. 3. YOU are the one who gets to control the discussion around your health. This was a huge part of my own journey. For years, I felt like if people asked how my health was doing or questions about my treatment that I was obligated to answer them, even though I REALLY didn't want to do so. The truth is that I wasn't. I could have politely said that I didn't want to talk about that topic right now. When we feel like our health is the constant topic of conversation, it can feel frustrating, debilitating and (at least for me) like we have no privacy. Remember it is ok to not answer all questions. It isn't rude-- it is just your way of managing your life. I'd love to know which of these 3 reminders you needed to hear most today. Put a 1, 2, or 3 in the comments to let me know. Make sure to follow my profile for more wisdom about self-care, living with chronic illness and more.