Chronic illnesses, like persistent Lyme disease, usually come with a whole host of symptoms, including fatigue, heart problems, and frequent headaches. Unfortunately for some, trying to cope with these can also lead to additional issues — such as depression and anxiety. Whether you have a clinical diagnosis or you’re just feeling particularly down about your situation, there are plenty of ways to work through some of those negative emotions. Keep in mind that these aren’t meant to replace medications prescribed by your doctor, they’re simply ideas to help you break a negative thought cycle.
- Take a Walk Down Memory Lane
Pull out those old photo albums from your kids’ younger years, the photo book from your wedding or even some digital versions of pleasant memories. It’s been proven that we’re much more likely to recall the bad memories more easily than the good, so set a goal to show yourself all the little happy moments you’ve lived. Those with chronic illnesses can sometimes convince themselves that they’ve missed out on so much in life, but taking a look back through a positive lens can help dispel that notion quickly.
- Reach Out to a Loved One
Maybe your walk down memory lane should be shared with those children in the photos! Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone for a call or even a text or email. Chances are, your conversation about happy times will be wonderful for both you and whoever you’re chatting with.
- Pick Up a Pen
Or pop open that laptop. Hey, there are even voice memo recorders out there these days! Writing your thoughts down on paper can often be therapeutic for those suffering from a low mood. If you can, think of even just a few things that went well that day — no matter how small — and jot them down. If you do this a few days in a row, your brain may even start noticing those pleasant little experiences more often. After all, you have an assignment that you need to complete later, better start cataloging now!
- Take a Hike
Getting out for a walk is a wonderful way to immerse yourself in a little bit of nature while getting your blood pumping. Though it may not feel like it at the time, many symptoms of chronic illnesses are helped in the long-run by regular exercise. Add in some vitamin D and the possibility of seeing a dog or two, and it’s a great way to pull yourself out of a rut. If you look up hikes in your area, you should be able to find good trail descriptions that tell you exactly what to expect in terms of terrain and difficulty.
- Volunteer Your Time
Even if you already donate money or items to a charity, getting out there and donating your time is a wonderful way to elevate your mood. You get to interact with others while providing help to those in need. Meetup is a great place to start looking for volunteer options in your area. If you’ve been struggling recently with depression due to your chronic illness, remember that you don’t have to go it alone.