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In keeping with this month’s theme: chronic illness and healing, today I want to give you 5 encouraging tips for when you’re diagnosed with a chronic illness. If you didn’t listen to the previous episode, I spoke about this month’s theme and its importance to me, if you’re interested.
To quickly recap, when I was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease in March 2020, I hit rock bottom. It took me about two years to start to see just how much Crohn’s improved my life for the better. The thing with chronic illness is that it’s long term. In the short term, when you’re first diagnosed, you may be relieved about having a name to put to the pain, but then I find most go into this mourning period. This is so normal, and important even, as you’re mourning your old self. But the cool thing is that you get to choose who you want to become and how much you let your disease impact your daily life beyond your symptoms. In the short term, you need time to heal and adjust to your new life. But that time ends. You adjust. You become resilient. The pain pushes you to imagine things differently. You have a unique perspective most don’t. You have the drive to be different because you have to be.
Tip #1 is to create a new routine. Curate your life. Go on Pinterest and start making a list of all the things you want. Let yourself go wild and don’t worry about the cost. Make a list for homewares, clothes, new chronic illness friends, you name it. Dream it up. The only catch is that you have to make sure each item you list supports your new life and purge what doesn’t. The clothes need to be comfy. The homewares need to be easy to use and chic. Clean out your closet and home and get rid of things that you can’t use or don’t fit your new life. Invest in things that will make YOU happy as you are right now. Refer to this list several times a week. Put it in your calendar and allow yourself to get excited. Then look for these things on Facebook marketplace, thrift stores, or budget out to invest in one new thing a month.
Tip #2 – Join a support group. Go to the foundation site of the chronic illness you have or look up a facebook group and join a monthly meeting. Being surrounded by people with the same illness is so important or you can start to feel isolated and lonely. For adolescents, a study done at the Florida Mental Health Institute found their “results suggest that such groups can provide important benefits for individuals with chronic illnesses as well as for their nondisabled peers.”
Tip #3 – Find a holistic practitioner or health coach that specializes in your illness to support your traditional doctor. I know these doctors can be expensive, as they should be in order to best support you, so if that’s out of your budget, don’t settle for someone you don’t feel 100% comfortable with, but instead just follow all their social and email outlets. Fill your feed with support tips or make a weekly time to dive into resources that will help you on your journey.
Tip #4 – Start a mindfulness practice. According to a study done on the relationship between mindfulness practice and subject wellbeing, “the findings provided evidence for an association between mindfulness and SWB homeostatic resilience in a clinical population.” Nothing will get you back into your body like a chronic illness. If you’ve been treating your body like a machine, like me, this can be especially uncomfortable to all of a sudden be bed-bound and experiencing all these new aches and pains. Meditation was a welcome break that got me out of my head and calmed my nervous system, relieving a lot of my stress and therefore, pain. My favorite resources are on Insight Timer. If you’re familiar with meditation already, To Be Magnetic is a wonderful resource, although it’s intense inner child and healing work that might not be suited to someone unfamiliar with mediation and navigating a new physical illness.
Tip #5 – Curate your social media. Like you curated your new life and are redesigning your physical environment to fit the new you, curate your social media to be the same. Unfollow those models if they make you feel sad that your body might not ever look the same. Anyone that makes you feel ashamed or sad, or any negative feeling at all, unfollow! Fill your feed with inspiration and accounts that reflect the person you want to become.
This week I want you to choose one of the tips to take action on. Create a SMART goal and add it to your calendar. Even better, create one to-do a week and within 5 weeks, you’ll have created an action plan and started curating your new life with more positivity and hope! Wishing you all the best on your journey.
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