Living with a chronic illness can often feel frustrating and limiting. Though there are many physical, emotional and mental daily struggles that people with long-term conditions may experience, that doesn’t mean they can’t live fulfilling and happy lives. With just a few strategies and tips, you could be smiling a little bit more each day. And before long, you may just end up redefining what happiness means for you.
Mind the Gap
The expectation gap has been well-studied in psychology for one big reason — it’s amazingly effective at making us feel worse about absolutely everything. From relationships to careers to our own bodies, having unnecessarily high expectations is a great path to disappointment.
Because we got it into our heads that this is how things should be. We see idealized romantic dates in movies, high-powered careers in books and television, and these seemingly perfect bodies all around us every day. It’s easy to let the comparison game get the better of us, leading us to believe that we need to be upping the bar for happiness or success constantly.
Instead of making joy a retreating target, imagine if you brought it closer to you. Whether it’s appreciating the little things, celebrating smaller accomplishments, or heck even the trendy Hygge. Anything that brings your expectations closer to reality will lessen those feelings of disappointment in the long run.
Love the One(s) You’re With
There’s a reason so many articles about living with chronic illnesses include having a good support system. Plenty of research shows that there are numerous benefits to being around family and social support in the short and long run.
From the basics of making sure you’re taking care of yourself to the intangibles like offering comfort when you need it, your tribe can go a long way toward helping you live well with a chronic illness.
Get to Know You
I bet you think that by your age (whatever that may be) you’re pretty confident in what you know about yourself. But it turns out there are whole books devoted to teaching us just how little we know about our inner workings.
Try journaling about your pain cycles, energy levels throughout the day, and mood changes. Chances are you’ll be surprised at what you find. Do a little science on yourself and experiment with switching schedules to work around those dips or rough patches.
In the end, it’s important to remember that living well with a chronic illness is absolutely possible and within anyone’s reach. And giving yourself time and grace will go a long way toward helping you reach happiness.