It’s no fun being sick, but when your illness stretches on and on with no end in sight, well it can be pretty stressful, to say the least. If you’re struggling with a chronic illness, being stressed could set your recovery back or make your symptoms worse, so it is of the utmost importance that you do all you can to stay calm, keep your spirits up and minimise stress as much as possible.
Here are some simple strategies to help you deal with the stress of chronic illness;
Get Your Finances in Order
If you’re so sick that you’re unable to work, getting your finances in order will go a long way to alleviating your stress. So, talk to your boss, check out this sick pay entitlement guide, and have someone help you take a look at your incomings and outgoings to draw up a budget that will see you through your illness without you having to worry too much about finances.
When you’re suffering from a chronic illness, having self-compassion for yourself is vital. If you start to blame yourself for being sick, it will only make you feel worse, and anyway, it isn’t your fault. People get sick all the time, even the healthiest of us will suffer at one point – it’s part of being human. So, be easy on yourself and treat yourself with the same kindness you’d treat a sick friend or relative.
See a Counsellor
If you’re really struggling with your illness and coming to terms with the life changes it’s caused, don’t be afraid to seek the help of a qualified counsellor who can help you process your thoughts and feelings and suggest better coping techniques to stop you from sinking too far into stress and depression.
Take Good Care of Yourself
One of the things that can really make you feel stressed out is not taking proper care of yourself. If you’re starting to feel more stressed out than usual, it could be because you’re letting things slide in the looking after yourself department. So, take a step back, assess your behaviour, and if you find that you haven’t been taking your medication as directed, you’ve stopped socializing in any way you’re able, and you’ve taken to wallowing in bed all day, do what you can to change that and get back on track. You’re guaranteed to feel at least a little bit better.
When you’re sick, it can be easy to become isolated. You’re not working, and you often feel too unwell to go out and see friends, but staying connected to friends and family is a must if you don’t want to get stressed or, even worse, depressed. Just knowing that you have someone who you can vent to and who will listen and empathize with you can work wonders, and no matter how sick you are, you can probably pick up the phone or start a conversation on facebook. Of course, if you’re well enough, getting out of the house and meeting friends for lunch, for example, will be even better.
Believe that Things Can Change
If your condition isn’t terminal, then there is every chance that, things will get better and you will start to feel more like your old self in the near future. If you can believe that this is a possibility, although it won’t completely alleviate your stress and low moods, but it will make a difference. One thing’s for sure, if you take a negative attitude towards your illness, it’s only going to make you feel worse.
Find Something Pleasant to Focus On
I know it’s not easy when you’re sick and in pain, but if you can find something pleasant to focus on, which gives you joy and takes your focus away from your illness for even an hour or two each day, you will feel less stressed out, not least because numerous studies have shown that hobbies, particularly crafts, have a soothing effect on body and mind helping to fight stress, depression and even PTSD.
I know, I know, you’ve probably heard that meditation can cure everything from back pain to bipolar disorder, and although it might not be as miraculous as some of its proponents would have you believe, it really is good at relieving stress. Just getting out of your mind, focussing on the present moment and letting whatever happens, happen without judgement can give you a real boost right when you need it most.
Try a Change of Venue
If you’re sick, being stuck looking at the same four walls day in day out can really cause you to go stir crazy and stress yourself out. So, whenever you can opt for a change of venue, even if you just move from the bedroom to the living room or the living room to the garden. In fact, the garden, where you’re surrounded by nature, is probably one of the best places you can be, especially if the weather is to your liking.
Sometimes letting it all out and allowing yourself to have a good cry, as you can see in this article, can release all that pent up stress and tension from your body. After all, you are sick, and you are probably feeling frustrated. Bottling it up isn’t going to do you much good, but letting your emotions flow freely probably will.
Please don’t throw anything at me! I know you’re probably thinking that you’re sick and you don’t have a whole lot to be grateful for, but is that really the case? Do you have a family? An Understanding boss? A safe place to live? A hobby you enjoy? You have a lot more to be thankful about than a lot of people, many of whom will also be struggling with chronic illness, so try to count your blessings each day if you want your stress to subside.
Living with chronic stress certainly isn’t a barrel of laughs, but it doesn’t have to totally take over your life mentally and physically if you don’t want it to!