7 tips for difficult days when you suffer from a chronic illness
Photography credit: Frances Gunn

Having a chronic illness is tough, both physically and emotionally. Some days can be really difficult and in today’s post, I am sharing some tips that I hope will help you during those times. Here are 7 tips for dealing with difficult days:

1. Focus on the present moment

Minimising stress is really important if you are experiencing a flare up as stress will exacerbate your symptoms. Often the biggest cause of stress is wishing for the past or worrying about the future. Unfortunately, we can’t change the past and the truth is, you don’t know what will happen in the future either.

Worrying about either of these things is therefore wasted energy. The best thing you can do for yourself right now is to focus on the present moment. Take things day by day and put your energy into doing things that will help you to feel as well as possible right now.

2. Listen to your body

It’s human nature to want to push through and get back to our previous state of health. The problem is the more you resist how you feel, the more you will prolong it. You may even risk making yourself feel worse. Symptoms are unpleasant but they are your body’s way of communicating with you.

Your body is telling you that you need to slow down and allow it time to recover. The body can do amazing things if given the chance to heal. The more you fight it and push through, the further away you are from allowing that. Think about it this way: would you rather take the time out now and really give your body what it needs to get better or do you want to keep fighting and potentially prolong your current state of health?

3. Rest as much and for as long as you need to

So many of us fight rest. I know I did. Each time I have crashed in the past I would only allow myself a set period of time before I felt I had to get up and start moving again. With hindsight, I can now see that this was illogical as I was essentially fighting against what my body was telling me.

I wish I had valued rest and allowed my body more time to heal. Like I said above, your body can do amazing things if you create a healing environment for it. If your body doesn’t have the resources to do what you are asking of it, you are fighting a losing battle. Rest up and only start to move and do things again when you actually feel like you are able to.

There can definitely be a disconnect between the brain and the body. Make sure you are listening to your body over your mind when you make decisions about what to do. When you feel like moving again, start with something gentle like stretches or restorative yoga in bed. Start small and only repeat this again if it doesn’t make your symptoms worse. Anything you do that makes you feel worse needs to be avoided at this stage.

4. Tell someone how you are feeling

Having bad days is tough and it is even tougher to go through it alone. Open up to someone and share how you are feeling. Getting the support of someone else can give you a boost when you so desperately need it. It also means you can get the help that you need so that you are able to fully rest and recover.

However, choose who you speak to wisely. You need to speak to someone who will understand and empathise with you. If you open up to someone who doesn’t get it, then you will sadly create more stress for yourself. I appreciate that not everybody has someone in their life that they can open up to in this way. That’s why I feel the online chronic illness community is so amazing. There are many lovely, supportive and helpful people on social media, be it twitter or support groups.

If you don’t feel comfortable with speaking to someone about it, another great thing to do is go online and read blogs from people who are going through the same. It can really help to feel like you are not alone in what you are going through, especially if you are lacking support from other people in your life.

5. Pamper yourself

I use bad days as a perfect excuse to pamper myself. Whether that means simply getting into my best, comfy pyjamas or having a candlelit bubble bath, I will do anything that helps me to feel better if I am able to. I tend to make a list of things that I find enjoyable but easy to do and save those for my difficult days.

Although there have been times when all I could do was lie in a dark room and do nothing (and that’s perfectly okay to do if that’s what your body needs) if I am able to do these things it can help to lift my mood. I am talking simple things such as colouring, drawing, listening to certain music or audiobooks. I also like to watch certain movies that require little concentration on my part.

6. Don’t beat yourself up about it

One of the most important things to remember when you are dealing with chronic illness is that it is not something you have brought on yourself. What has happened is part of the course of being ill and you are not to blame for it.

No one would choose to have this happen to them and– though I can completely understand this way of thinking (as I have been there too)– it is grossly unfair to put yourself down, feel guilty or beat yourself up about how you are feeling.

Your thoughts can be your own worst enemy at times and it can be helpful to put things into perspective. For example, imagine it was your best friend or someone very close to you who was going through this. Would you be saying the same things to them as you do to yourself? I highly doubt it. This is, therefore, a gentle reminder that you do not deserve to be told these things either.

7. Stay hydrated & eat nutrient-rich foods

One of the best things you can do for yourself is to ensure that you are giving your body proper nutrition. Think of what you eat as fuelling your body and helping it to heal. Your body needs vital nutrients to heal and repair itself. If you don’t eat or fill your body with processed foods, you aren’t giving your body what it needs. It’s also important to keep hydrated as every cell in your body needs water to function correctly. Choose water or herbal teas and avoid caffeine or sugary drinks.

I hope you find these tips helpful. If there is anything else you would add to the list, please share your thoughts down below in the comments.

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7 tips for difficult days when you suffer from a chronic illness. #chronicillness #mentalhealth #fibromyalgia #mecfs

Author

Hello, I'm Donna. I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia in 2013 and started this blog shortly after. After my health declined significantly the following year, I decided to become my own advocate and searched for answers. It took two years but, in 2016, I finally discovered I had Lyme Disease. On February Stars, I share my personal journey back to better health; discussing what has helped me and the mistakes I've made along the way. I also cover topics on self-improvement, managing symptoms and living life to the fullest with chronic illness.

12 Comments

  1. Great tips. It’s funny how obvious some advice is (like get some rest and don’t feel guilty about it) and yet I still need to be reminded over and over that I am allowed to do it!

    • Thank you! Yes, you are so right and I often find I need to hear those things from other people, almost like I need them to tell me so I feel validated to do it. Silly I know.

  2. I really need to take some of these into more consideration. Especially hydration and eating better. A great post for everyone. 🙂

  3. I’m pretty good about each of these except the hydration. I haven’t been drinking my usual amount of water, and can definitely feel it.

    Thank you for a great post! I look forward to your posts because they are easy to read, visually appealing, and packed with great information. I would love for you to share this post at Chronic Friday Linkup today – http://www.beingfibromom.com

    I posted this article to the Fibromyalgia Informational Group board at https://www.pinterest.com/beingfibromom/fibromyalgia-informational-group-board/

    • Hi Brandi, thank you. Yes I know what you mean, I feel it if I don’t stay hydrated too. Thanks for sharing on Pinterest. I apologise I’m rubbish at remembering to add to link-up’s!

  4. I wish I could do more of these this week. Both my daughter and I have fibro and have been struck by a really nasty chest infection. It’s very contagious so I can’t ask for help. And as mum it’s my job to keep going… this was until 2 days ago I was unable to get out of bed. This is the hardest and most painful and attack I’ve had for a long time.

    • Oh that sounds awful Cathy. Take it easy. I know you have others to look after but you need to look after yourself to enable you to do that. Take care

  5. Since last commenting on this post, I have not improved with hydration (as I sip on coffee). haha These are great tips, but often hard for me to do because I’m use to doing everything myself. It’s hard to let go as an Aries with a type A personality. haha

    Thanks for sharing at Chronic Friday Linkup! #ChronicFridayLinkup

    • It’s one of those things that can almost feel like a chore. I once read about someone who fills up mason jars each day so she knows exactly how much she should drink each day. I thought that would quite a neat idea.

  6. These are fantastic. Also God and faith is crucial to your wellbeing.

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