It can be a daily challenge living with a chronic condition, but it’s vital to stay motivated,
so you can manage it in the best way possible
Chronic illnesses are defined by the Centers for Disease Control as those that last a year or more and require ongoing medical attention, or limit activities of daily living, or both. In South Africa, the most common chronic condition is hypertension (high blood pressure), followed by HIV/AIDS, diabetes, arthritis, asthma, high cholesterol, mental illness, heart disease, epilepsy, TB, stroke and cancer, reports statista.com.
Living with chronic illness can be difficult and managing it with medication and lifestyle changes while feeling unwell, or when you have a temporary setback, can be frustrating. Try these tips to help you push on and keep looking ahead.
Remind yourself that you’re not failing
Certain chronic illnesses can flare up at times, forcing you to cut back on things you do daily, or to take off from work or studies. When you’ve been making progress, this can be disappointing and demotivating. Don’t take it out on yourself by being self-critical. Setbacks aren’t failure. Remind yourself that sometimes simply getting through the day is enough. Allow yourself to be human. Have compassion for yourself. “Remind yourself that you’re good enough as you are,” says Durban psychologist Sharon Spradbury.
Keep your eye on the goal
Keep in mind that by following the regime your health professionals advise, be it medication, exercise, diet or other lifestyle recommendations, you are giving yourself your best chance. Remind yourself too that this is important not only for you, but for caregivers and those who love you. This means keeping at it or getting back to it if you slip at times.
Break it into small, manageable steps
If a setback or dip of motivation has kept you from exercising for a while, or from going to therapy, or eating optimally, restarting can require extra will power. Having a plan makes you more likely to meet your goals, especially if you write it down. “A plan also provides a structure in what could otherwise be an unstructured and aimless day,” says Spradbury.
Break the plan into small, manageable steps. So, if you’ve stopped exercising, pick a day and get up at the time you usually did this. Just practice deep breathing and do a few simple stretches. Over the following days, as you feel stronger and more confident, add movements. Then (with the okay of your health professional), get back to what you were doing, starting slowly and for short periods, and building on this – whether walking, swimming or working out with an instructor. Check in with your health professional along the way.
Do small things to lift you
Make a point each day to notice the positive around you – from a stranger’s smile to the feeling of sun on your skin. And have something positive you can look forward to. This can be anything from setting up a WhatsApp video chat with a friend who you can unload to, to doing an online yoga class, or listening to a motivational podcast. Many podcasts are free, such as the Chronically Healing Podcast.
Reach out to help others
It’s not easy staying positive and motivated when you have a chronic illness, and just keeping yourself on track can take all your energy. But if you possibly can, do something for someone else, whether through a support group for those with your condition, or in way unrelated to it – helping youngsters with schoolwork, recording stories for the blind, or helping at an animal shelter. The connectivity and the feeling of accomplishment can give the boost you need to power on, Spradbury says. “At the core of our being, we strive for attachment to others and they in turn help us along our path back to a state of optimism and motivation.”
Article by Clicks