Living Well With a Chronic Illness – Top Ten Tips

Today’s post is a very personal one which I am sharing as I think it may help lots of people.

As someone who loves to be creative and keep my brain busy, I have found the perfect combination of working part-time and being self employed the rest of the time is a winning combination.

I have had an auto-immune type of arthritis for a number of years and I have to say managing it has not always been easy. The symptoms ranged from chronic pain to fatigue, but most of the time it felt like I was coming down with the ‘flu. Among many other challenges like being diagnosed and treated in the first place, was the fact (unfortunately) other people could not tell that I was unwell. This, although being a blessing in many ways, made it difficult to ask other people for help when I was very run-down or simply did not have the strength to do what others would regard as easy.

During the time when the disease was most active, I was working full-time as a teacher. Although I loved the job, I came to loathe it, as I was exhausted and in pain most of the time. I slept through most of my rest time and basically had no life. When I tried to do anything other than my day-job, I got sick. At one point I was chomping on 14 tablets a day (and still in pain).

The path back to wellness
Fast forward several years and I am now self-employed and in charge of my own time, and able to decide which work I take on. I am able to be flexible and work with a range of different clients and collaborators, which is really exciting and keeps my creative brain happy!
For me the benefits of being self-employed far outweigh the downsides; for example not having the same benefits like sick pay or a pension. What I do have though, is a sense of being free and being able to choose to look after my own health and well-being,which means I am enjoying my working and leisure hours so much more. To find out how I can help you in person you can read this post.

My Top Ten Tips

  1. Work out when your energy is highest and do things you need to get done then. Do you have more energy in the morning, afternoon or evening?
  2. Plan in time for rest. This does not necessarily mean bed-rest, although if that’s what you need, take it.
  3. Learn to listen to your body. Pain and fatigue are indicators which means your body may be trying to tell you something. Listen and acknowledge this communication.
  4. Find a form of exercise that you enjoy – it does not have to be the gym! Walk in the park or dance in your living room – whatever makes you feel good.
  5. Talk to other people who have similar issues through support groups. It makes it much easier when you realise you are not alone.
  6. This one is hard: Accept the limitations of your illness. It is an illness, but it does not define you. If you accept it and make peace with it, you will be able to get over it.
  7. This one sounds harsh: Get over it. It’s not the worst thing in the world, you are not the only one and there are many others out there suffering more than you. It took me ages to stop feeling sorry for myself, but when I did, I felt so much better.
  8. Make goals for yourself each day – today I will walk further than yesterday. Even a few extra minutes will build strength and stamina.
  9. Get out and about. Use your leisure time to discover new ideas – your brain loves stimulation and it helps place your attention elsewhere.
  10. Be sociable. Spend time with positive fun people and you will feel better about yourself. Laughter is the best medicine.

Get in touch today to find out how I can help you manage a chronic illness.

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