Living well with chronic illness is about more than simply treating the symptoms of the illness. It is about treating the whole person. Note, I didn’t say healing, rather, the focus should be on treating and learning to cope with the symptoms of our chronic illness the best we can. Of course, in a perfect world, healing would be perfect. But in an imperfect world, living well with chronic illness should be the priority.
The best way I have found to do this is to wage a war on several fronts. That means I believe that it is very important to take purposeful and active steps to manage our symptoms in order to truly live well with chronic illness. It isn’t enough to hope and pray that we will feel better one day, a plan of action is needed.
How does living well with a chronic illness work?
Manage the pain
Pain management is by far the first on my list. Heat, ice, pills, ointments, creams, oils, CBD, and compression are just some of the options I’ve tried in order to try and manage my pain. Living well is impossible if you are in terrible pain all of the time.
Feed your body
Experiment with different diets that may help to relieve your pain. I’ve tried several myself (check out info on my attempts at low carb here) in search of the best one for me, my family, and lifestyle. I’m currently researching the Autoimmune Diet which is part of the Paleo diet. I’m working up a post now about what exactly that is and how it (might) work.
Feed your soul
There is scientific proof that emotional health is an important as physical health. They are very closely tied together. Not long after my PsA diagnosis, I started to struggle with anxiety. I didn’t know how I was going to feel day to day or how I was going to keep up with my daily life. It made me feel very overwhelmed and out of control of my own life.
Yes, I started medication, but more importantly I had to take time to relax, reflect, and feed my soul. I’ve recently started doing simple and gentle yoga to help me relax and feel more in control. Journaling, prayer, and let’s face it, long, hot, epsom salt bath bombs all work together to nourish my soul.
Be proactive and educated
One of the things I’ve learned when it comes to living well, it is always better to be proactive than reactive. Pain is better if you “get ahead” of it. It is easier to heal your soul if you take steps to keep yourself stress-free and in touch with your emotions. Learn every thing you can about how what you do affects how you feel. Educate yourself about your disease and use that information to be informed and advocate for yourself.