Living with a chronic disease can be incredibly discouraging and stressful. Chronic disease can take a huge toll in your everyday life, I am suffering for the last 14+ years, so I am talking from experience. Your mental and emotional well-being is tested daily through the challenges you face. While your chronic disease may feel outside of your control, you do have control over how you develop your mental strength to cope and thrive. Consider using these five tips to stay mentally strong as you navigate the world of chronic illness.
Develop a Self-Care Routine
Building a strong self-care routine is essential to managing your disease. While you may have symptoms you cannot control, you can control the way you treat yourself. Perhaps you set aside time to rest or meditate after a challenging day. Maybe you learn how to cook nourishing meals that help restore your energy if your disease takes a toll on you physically. Practicing small but significant everyday habits may strengthen the idea that you deserve to feel good.
Ask for Help
Learning to lean on your support system will be an essential habit to protect your mental strength. It is easy to feel drained after dealing with your illness alone, so communicate with your support system to obtain the professional help you need. Visit a licensed psychologist, find dual diagnosis treatment if you struggle with comorbid conditions such as substance abuse and mental illness, and visit your primary care doctors and other medical professionals as needed.
Asking for help is never a sign of weakness. Instead, it is a sign of strength. Reaching out for support may help protect your mental and physical strength so you can focus on your wellness.
Process Your Emotions
The emotional pressure you experience with a chronic illness may be draining. You may be dealing with frustration at your own body and with discouragement if your symptoms are not improving.
Learning to process emotions in healthy ways may prevent you from using unhealthy coping mechanisms, such as drinking, using drugs, engaging in self-destructive behaviors, or beating yourself up mentally. Be proactive and practice healthy stress relief techniques such as exercising, journaling, or meditating. Processing your emotions may create optimism and encourage you to make better decisions, so find one or two healthy methods to access your emotions on a regular basis.
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Connect with Your Purpose
Finding purpose and fulfillment is a powerful method to balance some of the negative emotions surrounding your chronic disease. Think about what intrinsically motivates and excites you.
Maybe you find joy in everyday activities such as taking walks or cooking your favorite meals. You may also build mental strength through activities that provide positivity to others, such as peer mentoring or volunteering for charities. The activities may distract you from your pain and help you build your confidence in the process. They may help you find purpose and fulfillment.
Acknowledge Your Wins
Celebrating your accomplishments will be an important part of your fight against chronic illness. Acknowledging your efforts to treat yourself well may motivate you to continue doing so. This motivation may inspire you to keep fighting even when challenges occur.
Allow yourself to feel proud of everyday wins, such as making it outside for a walk or taking all of your medications on a consistent basis. Wins such as enjoying social events or managing pain better are worth celebrating. Do your best to notice your efforts to build positive thought patterns.
Staying mentally strong in your fight against chronic disease requires self-awareness and patience. You have everything you need to build healthy habits and remind yourself to celebrate your achievements. You may want to use these ideas the next time you feel discouraged. The tips may help you build your mental strength and improve your life.
About the Guest Writer:
Adam Durnham has a background in journalism and an English degree from Central Michigan University. He writes primarily in the area of mental health and wellness and especially takes interest in how daily life affects mental health in general. He currently lives in Detroit, Michigan with his dog Beignet.
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