Living with a chronic illness is stressful enough, but there are some steps we can take to manage extra stress. Here's some tips and ideas on how to remove extra stress when you have a chronic illness.
If we can manage and reduce extra stress, why wait? There are certain mindsets and things we can implement and develop so we can reduce all the extra stress that comes with living with a chronic illness. When our health is uncertain and we live a constantly wobbly journey day-to-day, the more ways we can reduce any extra stress the better for our selves, families, and lives overall.
1. Maintain a routine as much as possible - Routines are the cornerstone to stress management. Living with a chronic illness and not knowing how you’ll feel day-to-day can make keeping a routine difficult. But for the most part, keeping simple routines in our days is so helpful. For the things we can control, it can give us a little peace. You don’t have to constantly be stressing out over planning each new day; instead you fall into a rhythm accomplishing Monday’s tasks, Tuesday’s tasks, etc.
2. Develop a strong support system - The sooner you realize and establish this, the better. You don’t have to shoulder all the stress and bourdon of an illness by yourself. It’s okay to accept the love and support from your family and friends. They want to help make things easier on you and help manage the “other things” while you focus your energy and keeping yourself as healthy as possible. (Bonus: The free hugs they give help a lot too!)
3. On good days, prep and plan ahead for the bad - The best way to manage unnecessary stress? Plan and prep ahead! That means working ahead in all aspects. From your job (for me that means this blog!), school work, meal prep, cleaning, etc. Make a big batch of veggie burgers you can freeze and reheat for a quick nourishing dinner or prep some waffles for those days when you just can't cook. Draft blog posts ahead of time, don't procrastinate on assignments and essays you have to write. This past semester of college, I finished all my course work weeks before it was due (and good thing I did!)
4. Voice your concerns, emotions, and advocate for yourself - Don’t hold your questions, concerns, and emotions in. This is another area where your support system comes in. The emotional roller coaster of having a chronic illness makes it necessary to have someone you trust to vent and talk to. Keeping everything inside will only make you feel more ill, more stressed. It’s also essential to have someone from your support system come to your doctors appointments, tests, etc. with you. Two voices are better than one when asking the questions you have, expressing your concerns, demanding the tests you want. The entire medical system is “stressful” and intimidating. When you have someone by your side, on your team, making sure you’re being advocated for when you may not be able to yourself, that’s key and essential to getting the best care and answers that you deserve.
5. Have patience and acceptance with yourself - This may be one of the hardest things to done, but one that is so needed in removing extra stress from your day-to-day. When I realized that some days my body would just need to sleep, it wouldn’t be able to do the normal things, the “routines”, I was used to, room for acceptance and patience moved in. When there are days that I need to go to the hospital from being so ill, forget 4am workouts, I could barely lift my head. For the days where all I can eat is a spoonful of cereal or just barely stomach a sip of water. But there’s nothing I could do but accept how my body was reacting that day and have patience that things will get better.
6. Keep a list of “feel goods” when you get overwhelmed - Over the past few months I’ve been keeping a list of the easier things that make me feel better when I’m feeling so overwhelmed and life is in shambles. Reading has been wonderful. It doesn’t require too much energy and allows me to escape and take my mind off how I’m feeling or the stress of the unknown. From listening to your favorite music, maybe a “feel good” playlist, to watching YouTube videos, just simple things to bring you back out of your head and immersed in something else (not endlessly asking “Dr. Google” all of your symptoms…) It’s also good to have a ton of options so for the days when you can’t get out of bed to do “feel good” yoga or have a cooking and baking recipe marathon in the kitchen, you have options where you fatigue and nausea don’t get in the way!
7. Put your prescription medication refills on autopilot - Phil, “the smarter prescription refill service” lets you “set and forget” your prescriptions. It’s a free service that offers the convenience of door delivery to your home and manages any burdens involving the pharmacy, insurance, and doctors. Phil works with community-based independent pharmacies that are highly-rated for their customer service. Once you sign up on the website, Phil contacts your old pharmacy, insurance, doctor, and does all the paperwork for you! Delivery is free and you’ll never find yourself running out to the pharmacy to refill your prescriptions! The stress is taken off your shoulders of something that is so essential to our everyday needs with chronic illness.
So tell me:
+ What are some ways you try to remove the extra stress in your life with chronic illness?
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