If you’re living with a chronic illness, life is anything but predictable. You have good days and bad ones, and then there are the days you can barely drag yourself out of bed. Shall we call those worse days?
You may find that you struggle more in one area of your life than another, which is completely normal. The following 10 tips will help you balance all the important parts and pieces of your life – all while managing your chronic disease.
Find balance in your social life
Whether you have diabetes, chronic pain, or multiple sclerosis, you will have days where you’re feeling a bit fatigued and less-than social. So what happens when you have plans? Most people with chronic disease handle this dilemma in one of two ways.
- They don’t make plans at all
- They often cancel at the last minute
If you’re guilty of one of these and it happens to be working for you, great. No need to change a thing. But if your chronic illness is currently driving a wedge between you and your social life because you refuse to make plans or just don’t show up, it’s time for a change.
Start making plans on your own terms. Instead of agreeing to meet friends at a bar, maybe suggest that they come over to your place. This way, you can be comfortable and have a nice visit with your friends without the public exacerbating your chronic fatigue. Suggesting alternatives or reaching out to make plans sends the message that you care about these friendships. And that’s what will keep them going.
It may also be helpful for you to talk to your friends about your illness and any potential limitations. This way, they’re more likely to understand if you do have to bail the last minute.
Balance your chronic disease with work
Unfortunately, we all have to get out of bed and get to work. If you were to call in sick every time you weren’t feeling it, you wouldn’t have a job.
So, you have to find ways to make work more comfortable for you. If you are suffering from chronic pain and need anything special to help make your day more pleasant, don’t hesitate to ask. Or if you have chronic fatigue and feel like taking smaller, more frequent breaks is more beneficial for your health, then talk it out with your employer.
Let them know about your chronic illness and your limitations. When they’re in the loop, they’ll be more likely to understand anything that may come up. Also, they could help in case of emergency.
How to balance a chronic disease with relationships
If you’re single with suffering with chronic pain or another chronic illness, don’t let it mess with your head. You are just as valuable of a person and you’re just as capable of finding true love.
And if you’re in a relationship, understand that communication is key. Talk about important milestones with your significant other. Ultimately, you’re the one calling the shots, but try to tackle as much as possible as a team.
Tips to balance chronic disease with diet
Diet and health are so closely related that we can’t ignore the role of diet in your chronic illness. When you go through a stretch of time where you’re eating poorly, you may have found that your chronic fatigue symptoms are worse. If you haven’t noticed this yet, start paying attention.
If you think it’ll help, keep a food journal.
Your goal will be to eat more vegetables and less processed foods. Keep tabs on how your symptoms progress as you change your diet.
How to exercise through a chronic disease
When you’re suffering from a chronic illness, exercise might be the furthest thing from your mind. But if you want to maintain good health, it’s important. Commit to 30-minutes of exercise daily, but take it at your own pace. Walking, jogging, dancing and water aerobics are all suitable exercises. Just be sure to make a commitment to them. There will be days when you can’t, and that’s okay, but commit to exercising on most days.
How to handle alcohol with a chronic disease
Unless under doctor’s orders, there’s no reason to abstain from alcohol entirely. But with a chronic illness, it’s even more important to drink in moderation.
Alcohol abuse can worsen symptoms of most chronic diseases, so try to stick with a drink or two each week at maximum.
Managing medications for your condition
With this type of illness, there’s a good chance you’re taking at least one prescription medication to manage symptoms. Keep each medicine clearly labeled, so you know exactly when and how much of each prescription to take.
If you’re taking any pills that could be addictive, like opioid painkillers, keep these locked away and use them sparingly.
And if at all possible, investigate potential cures for your illness. Modern medicine is always advancing, so you may not need that medication forever. You may be able to find a stem cell clinic or a functional medicine practitioner that can help relieve some of your pain.
Traveling with a chronic disease
Many people with chronic diseases travel as comfortably as anyone else. The key is to keep your medication handy at all times, and bring more than you think you’ll need (in case of emergency).
If you have any special needs or requests, be sure to notify the airline or railway when you book your ticket to ensure you receive proper accomodations.
How to handle fluctuating emotions
When you have a chronic illness, it’s almost natural to experience a rollercoaster of emotions. You could be having a great day and feeling on top of the world, and then something happens to bring it all crashing down.
In these moments, understand that they are just passing units of time. You will get through this like you’ve gotten through everything else.
When the moment has passed, rely on your support system to help you through the emotional backdraft. If you don’t have anyone to talk to or are feeling hopeless, talk to a professional counselor.
Techniques for dealing with stress
Regular exercise will help reduce stress, but that alone isn’t likely to cut it. Chronic illness can come with a myriad of stressors to your mind and body.
Try to incorporate techniques like yoga, meditation and massage into your regular schedule to combat stress.
You are so much more than your illness, so don’t let it take over your life. Retain control in all areas with these 10 tips for balancing life with chronic illness.