Life is hard enough when you have chronic illness without giving ourselves a mental beat-down, so why do we do it anyways? Making small changes to be kinder to ourselves can go a long way. Here are some ideas to get started:
1) Don’t dwell on mistakes
Everyone makes mistakes, it’s a part of life. You might regret not wearing tick repellent on your hike. You might wish you had fought harder when the doctor said you didn’t actually have Lyme disease.
Now that you have chronic Lyme, you might feel like you’re failing as a spouse, parent, employee, or friend. If you slip up, it’s not the end of the world. Instead, think about how a certain experience might have helped you to learn and how it is okay that you’re adjusting to a new life with Lyme disease.
2) Look for the positive side of things
When everything seems to be going wrong, it can be really hard to just “be positive.” Especially when most days are filled with painful physical symptoms or emotional challenges…
However, trying to find the silver lining in bad circumstances can make a huge difference. Make a list of things that did go right in your day so that you have something tangible to reflect upon.
3) Accept that you can’t control everything
One of the hardest things in life is accepting that sometimes there’s just nothing we can do. We don’t know why certain people suffer with chronic illness and why others do not.
It’s difficult to take everything life throws at you, but asking “why me?”, or wondering what you did to deserve something won’t make it go away.
4) Leave the past in the past
We all have things we can’t let go of, but running it through your mind constantly just wears you down. “Did I really do as much I could today? If I hadn’t pushed myself so hard yesterday, would I have felt better today?”
Let things go and look ahead! It’s easier said than done, but try to block your thoughts whenever you find yourself in a bad loop.
During hard times, the future can seem bleak, so making goals gives you something to work towards and be excited for. Make simple goals for the day—even to just take a shower! As chronic illness sufferers, we know that we only have so much energy and so many spoons allotted to each day. Start with the most important things first.
Try writing your goals down and putting them in a place where you’ll see it everyday. Don’t let your present struggles with your illness take away your hope for growth and progression in the future.
6) Recognize your strengths
It’s always easy to see your weaknesses, but it’s important to recognize your talents and accomplishments. You are a chronic illness warrior, afterall. There are things you do well that no one else can do in the same way! Sometimes it can be hard to recognize what we’re good at, so ask friends and family for their opinions.
7) Avoid comparison
Comparing our struggles and life to someone else’s healthy life will only hurt you. Comparing how much you get done or how well you’re coping to another chronic illness sufferer is just as toxic. Everyone’s path is different. Everyone copes with sickness differently.
8) Love where you are
It’s easy sometimes to think that life was better in the past, or will be in the future, when things will be different and certain trials will be over. A lot of times we want to just fast forward through all the hardships and jump to a different stage of life. However, it is important to find joy in the little things, no matter what might be going on. It’s the only way we can make it through to another day of fighting this battle.
9) Take time for yourself
Make sure you take time to relax and do the things that distract you from being sick. Make a new playlist, spend time with a good book, or take a bubble bath.
Most of the time, we would never treat others the way we treat ourselves, so don’t fall into the mental trap of being too hard on yourself. We certainly know that chronic illness is already enough of a beating. Try your best and take it one day at a time!