Battling The Stress of Living with a Chronic Illness

Living with a chronic illness leaves many feeling as though it is an impossible task to manage. It can be discouraging, frightening, isolating and frustrating. 

On top of the pain you may experience, maintaining your everyday routine while juggling the stress of appointments, medication, and the symptoms themselves can all be overwhelming. 

More often, living with a chronic illness can provoke stress to become prevalent due to a variety of factors. Those factors include:


  • Getting an upsetting diagnosis or new diagnosis, in addition to your current condition.
  • Needing to start, stop, or change medications.
  • An injury or setback in your treatment.
  • Losing functionality and ability in your daily life.
  • Experiencing noticeable disease progression.
  • Financial stress from not being able to work and/or medical bills.
  • Missing out on an anticipated holiday, trip or event.


But there is hope in knowing you are not alone, and tools available to help support you in feeling in control of your life and your chronic illness. 

Let’s explore a few tools to help you battle the stress associated with living with a chronic illness, together. 


1. Consider Mindfulness 

Mindfulness is a great tool that may assist you in accepting the challenging aspects of living with chronic illness. The modality is a form of meditation that focuses on bringing the individual to focus on the present moment in a relaxed manner. The modality has been shown to decrease stress and change our relationship with pain. 

Mindfulness is a great tool when it comes to battling the stress associated with living with a chronic illness, as it encourages us to accept the current situation and let go of negative patterns and strains of thought regarding your chronic illness. 


2. Challenge Your Negative Self-Talk

That inner critic inside of you that may be whispering words such as “there is nothing you can do” and “this is unfair” is known as negative self-talk. By challenging your negative self-talk and promoting it with positive notions will make all the difference in supporting your mindset as you navigate your chronic illness. 

What you tell yourself plays a significant role in your emotional relationship with your chronic illness.

Rather than saying “this is not fair” try shifting your mindset to say “This may not be fair, but I am going to handle this condition as best as I possibly can.” Or, rather than saying “This illness is taking everything from me” try shifting your mindset to say “I know this illness has its ups and downs, and this is one of the downs.” 


3. Lean on Social Support

Although it can be challenging, don’t underestimate the power of seeking support from those around you when you’re struggling. 

Whether you choose to lean on the support of a friend, professional, or group of individuals who understand your condition, there is something so rewarding about saying your inner thoughts out loud to those who will listen. 

Even if nothing changes, being able to freely express your emotions to another individual has a powerful effect on your inner healing. 


4. Journal Your Thoughts

As mentioned previously, words have a powerful effect on your inner healing. Whether talking with an individual or writing them down, your words have power. 

For those who prefer to express their emotions by writing, a journal can do wonders. Every time you feel overwhelmed, keep a notebook with you and jot down some thoughts on what is making you feel that way. Take a look at what is making you feel that way, and implement strategies on how to overcome it. 

Start small, and work through your list one point at a time. As Martin Luther King Jr once said, “You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.” 


5. Move with Gratitude

Sometimes we can start to have feelings of frustration with our bodies or ourselves. We might feel as though either our body has failed us or we have failed it. Compassionately start to create a new relationship with your body. Set goals by taking small steps with some form of movement that feels good and your body is capable of. 

Offer different parts of your body gratitude each day either out loud or in a journal- all the way from having gratitude for our feet to allow us to walk each day to having gratitude for the parts of our heart that beat unconditionally each day to keep us alive.


Find Support with Emily 

Living with a chronic illness is no easy feat, however, it’s important to remember that your illness will never define you. 

If you are in need of additional support, reach out today! I would be more than happy to support you and work with you to find strategies and tools that will help you navigate the stress associated with living with a chronic illness. 

Disclaimer: Emily is a board-certified health coach with knowledge and training in these areas, however, it is important to always consult your doctor to make sure any of these ideas are safe and okay for you.

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