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  • Writer's pictureCiara Covey

From Surviving to Thriving: Strategies for Living Fully with Chronic Illness

Chronic illnesses can feel all-consuming. While a serious illness does require attention and maintenance, it does not require you to sacrifice your identity. Your self-worth does not have to diminish despite the complexities you are facing. In this blog post, we delve into practical strategies for maintaining your identity while living with a chronic illness. Let's explore ways to honor your authentic self and navigate the journey with grace and empowerment.

Here are some practical strategies for maintaining your identity while living with a chronic illness:

1. Align your thoughts, feelings and actions with love and compassion for yourself. Make a list of the features, values, and traditions that define you then the attributes that relate to your illness. Notice the distinctions and align with your authentic self. Try imagining yourself as the main character in a movie or novel and write down the traits.

2. Prioritize activities you enjoy.  Seek advice for adaptation from your medical team. Prepare for your comfort so that you can fully experience your pleasures. This can look different to everyone. For some, it may mean using adaptive equipment and for others it could mean asking for an increase in a symptom management medication specific to your activity and needs.

3. Remind yourself of the goodness you add to the world. The essence of you does not change when your body changes.

4. On difficult symptom days, remind yourself of your abilities. This will provide cognitive balance. Try your best not to compare yourself with others. It will benefit you to simply your challenging days and shift your consciousness to your capacity to adapt. Adaption is strength.  

5. Reframe rest.  Rest is necessary to allow you the energy to thrive in your desires. Rest is not a luxury nor a sign of weakness. It is an essential requirement to your joy. Plan your routine rest times and listen to your body for the need to increase/reduce rest.

6. Normalize your emotional experience. It is normal to feel anger and sadness for the changes you are experiencing. It is normal to grieve your pre-illness self. Emotions are transient states of experience. You are not defined by any singular emotion. Let them come, validate them, normalize them and let them pass. Offer kindness and compassion to yourself on days where your limitations feel bigger than your capabilities.

7. Use breathwork and thought stopping to remain in your current moments. Catastrophizing about the progression of your illness and letting the fear of the future overtake your mind distracts you from the current moment. Meditation, prayer and yoga are wonderful techniques for coming into your present. We can tend to the future by caring for today.

8. Connect with people who inspire and encourage you. It may feel important to connect with others who share your illness and are living well. Chronic illness can lead to feelings of isolation and disenfranchisement. Connection and communication combats the loneliness. 

9. Communicate your needs and boundaries with the people closest to you. It is best to let others know how they can best show up for you. Remind your loved ones all the ways you enjoy connecting with them outside of your illness. 

10. Stay empowered by knowing the latest developments in treatment options for your illness. Consider joining a support group and working with a therapist to control your emotional reactions to your illness.

If you're navigating the complexities of chronic illness and finding it challenging to maintain your sense of self-worth and identity, know that you're not alone. Our therapists at Rust Wellness Group specialize in supporting individuals like you through these difficult times. We're here to provide guidance, empathy, and practical strategies to help you thrive despite the challenges you face. Reach out to us today to take the first step towards reclaiming your identity and living a fulfilling life with chronic illness.

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