You don’t usually hear the terms ‘chronic illness’ and ‘happy and healthy’ together, do you? The concept of being happy and healthy while living with a long-term illness or condition seems strange, but does that mean it’s not possible? Of course not – you can have a chronic illness and lead a happy and full life.
The fact is that living with a chronic health condition can be incredibly difficult and can have a big impact on your quality of life. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t lead a happy and healthy life, your one medical problem doesn’t have to define your entire life. You can make the most of your life and enjoy it, even when you are living with a serious health problem.
It might be difficult living with a chronic health condition, but the fact is there’s no reason you can’t lead a full and happy life. Sure, some days will be harder than others, but there are steps that you can take to make leading a happy and healthy life that little bit easier.
You may think the concept of being healthy when you have a chronic condition is strange but what it means is being healthy aside from your condition. Taking care of yourself and ensuring that you are keeping your body healthy can have a big impact on your general health as well as on your happiness.
To learn more about leading a healthy and happy life when living with a chronic illness, read on.
Make pain management a priority
When living with a chronic condition, whether it’s arthritis, lupus or celiac disease, it’s vital that you make pain management a priority, that is, if it’s needed. At times when you are having a flare up and are feeling unwell, it’s crucial to make pain management a priority. Whatever you do, don’t leave it too long to take pain relief because by that time, your pain levels become too high and you will struggle to get them back under control. Always aim to reduce pain as soon as it occurs, to ensure that it doesn’t become unbearable. As well as using painkillers, it could be worth looking into other pain management methods, such as seeing a physiotherapist or undergoing acupuncture treatment, for instance. The fact is that it’s easy to become addicted to painkillers, which is why if you need to manage your pain on a regular basis it pays to look at alternative treatment methods, as well as using painkillers. Things like heat and ice therapy can be highly effective, and so, are worth a try.
Eat well & stay active
At times when you are feeling unwell, it’s often easier to eat junk food and lounge about on the sofa rather than eating well and staying active. But if you want to feel better in yourself and not feel as sluggish, it’s important to eat well and stay as active as possible. The key to eating healthily is making meals in batches and freezing them so that on bad days you have plenty of healthy food in the freezer that just needs to be microwaved. As for snacks, aim to stick to fruit and raw vegetables, and you will feel much better for it. When it comes to staying active, if you are in pain this may not be easy, but the fact is that it’s important to be as active as possible as physical activity causes the brain to release endorphins which make you feel happier and more content, so the more you can exercise, the better. If you don’t feel up to running around or doing anything too demanding, yoga or pilates could be a good option, as could swimming or walking. While you may not be able to do strenuous activities, it’s important to do what you can and stay as active as possible. It doesn’t matter if that’s just half an hour of pilates and a little walking, all that matters is that you are making an effort to stay active.
Manage your stress levels
Stress creates anxiety, anxiety leads to pain, and pain leads to stress – it’s a vicious cycle. Stress, anxiety and pain decrease happiness and make life that little bit worse, which is why it’s so important to learn how to effectively manage your stress levels. To keep your stress levels low, physical activity like meditation-based exercise can help – pilates and yoga allow you to relax your mind and let go of everything that’s bothering you. When you are feeling stressed, use deep breathing to reduce the tension and anxiety that you are feeling, so that you are able to calm down more quickly and let go of what’s bothering you.
Find your own way
Remember that you don’t need to please anyone. It’s up to you what you do – you need to find your own way. Because of your chronic illness, you may not be able to follow the path that you wanted to, but that doesn’t mean that your life is over, it just means that you need to find a new path. Say, for instance, you suffer from serious arthritis and can no longer work as a hairdresser because of it. This might be sad and upsetting, but it’s important to understand that you can (and will) find a new path to go down, it just might take some time, that’s all.
Even when you are on bed rest, it’s vital that you keep yourself busy. There is nothing worse than sitting around doing nothing – it’s these times when your mind will wander, and you will begin to stress about things. So whatever is happening, it’s vital that you stay busy. If you’re stuck in bed, this could mean reading a good book, knitting or crocheting, or setting up your own blog online. If you’re up and about, you have a lot more options when it comes to staying busy – you can do whatever you like, whether that’s cooking or gardening, it doesn’t matter, all that matters is that you can find a way to stay busy.
Celebrate the small wins
No achievement is too small to celebrate. Whether you manage to walk an extra mile compared to normal, are able to eat a whole meal, or manage to finish that book you have been reading, celebrate. When you suffer from a chronic illness, it’s all about celebrating the small wins. To prevent life from getting you down, it’s important to celebrate the small stuff as this will help to keep a smile on your face and should lift your mood.
Stop comparing yourself
It’s tempting to compare yourself to others but this is a mistake that you don’t want to make. Don’t compare your life to other people’s as this is guaranteed to put a downer on how you feel about things. It’s best not to compare yourself, instead try to be happy with what you have and the life that you lead. What other people are doing with their lives doesn’t matter – what matters is what you are doing with yours. Don’t compare yourself and your family to others, instead be happy with what you have and be proud of the life that you lead. Do this and you will feel much better for it.
If there is one mistake that you don’t want to make, it’s being negative. The fact is that being negative will only cause you to feel down and will make you resent the life that you lead. So aim to always be as positive as possible – don’t let life get you down, be happy with the life that you have. Just because things aren’t always perfect and sometimes your illness makes life more difficult than it needs to be, that’s no reason to get down about things. Try and always be as positive as possible, regardless of what life throws at you.
Don’t let your condition hold you back
Whatever chronic illness you have, don’t let it hold you back. The fact is that sometimes you won’t be able to do certain things because of how you are feeling, but wherever possible don’t let your illness hold you back. If you want to travel, travel – don’t miss out on family holidays, take life by the hands and jet off to somewhere sunny, just make sure that you have adequate health insurance in place. Love the idea of doing something for charity, like a skydive, for instance? Yes – then do it. Obviously check with your doctor first but if they okay it then it’s perfectly fine to do whatever you want to do. Don’t let your condition hold you back – do as much as you can and lead a life that’s as full as possible. You don’t want to regret anything – you want to ensure that your condition doesn’t negatively impact your life, ruining your chances of happiness.
There you have it, a guide to leading a happy and healthy life while living with a chronic illness. It might not be easy, but the fact is that it is possible to be content and happy, even with a chronic illness hanging over you.