Whether you are a caregiver or living with a chronic or life threatening condition, you are more than the diagnosis. Fear, shame, vulnerability and powerlessness can be common emotions. It is easy to define yourself by what you can no longer do and how you appear. You might even feel that you have been robbed of everything that makes life worth living. Yet great things can be achieved by connecting with your inner self, identity, soul, spirit or whatever form you choose to call the core of who you are versus what you appear to be.
Regardless of your diagnosis, and maybe because of it, well-being is achievable by being positive; engaged in life; and having a sense of purpose and strong connections with others.
While a cure for your specific condition is the direction you are moving towards, it is investing in the process that will help you heal.
Keep in mind the following:
• “Start where you’re at.” Accept and embrace that you are the way you are.
• Everything changes, including how you feel.
• Illness, aging, loss, or anything that makes one uncomfortable or suffer is not a reflection on being a good or bad person. Rather it is an opportunity for growth and change. Think of it as a “course correction” to put you on a different path.
• There’s no benefit in blaming yourself or others for your present situation
• You are doing the best you can and your best is more than good enough.
• Every one has “something” to deal with. This is your something.
• Feeling fear, rage, rejection, anger, anxiety, loneliness as well as joy, happiness, love and contentment are all part of being human.
• We’re wired for fear and it can easily run/ruin your life if you let it. As scary and frightening as loss and crisis might be, we are wired to be resilient.
• Contentment is happiness
• You can have feelings of being disconnected to yourself, family and friends. You may find yourself feeling extremely angry or sad. Be patient with yourself. If the feelings continue to persist for several weeks, or are interfering with your life, get professional help.
Live in the present: Be aware of your present and not trying to relive the past or be in fear of the future.
Practice Compassion of Self and Others. Accept yourself and others for who they are, not who you think they should be. We all make mistakes. We are all worthy of love, respect and kindness. Be “for yourself.”
Know Your Purpose
Increase contentment by:
• Giving: Do things for others
• Relating: Connect with People-Call a friend, have lunch
• Exercising: Reduce TV viewing and on-line time. Take a walk, dance
• Appreciating: Notice the world around you
• Trying out: Keep learning new things
• Direction: Have goals to look forward to
• Resilience: Find ways to bounce back
• Emotion: Take a positive approach
• Acceptance: Be comfortable with who you are
• Meaning: Be part of something bigger
I believe that the very purpose of life is to be happy. From the very core of our being, we desire contentment. Dali Lama
Develop or use your spirituality and/or faith: For some this may be a renewed faith in their religion for others it is an opportunity to find beliefs that provide comfort.
Don’t lose hope
Make achievable goals
Ask for Help
Keep a Journal: Write about feelings and thoughts.
Take an Art Break: Engaging in art activities can reduce stress and increase well being. Check out the Take a Break Pinterest for lots of ideas.
Meditate/Breathe: Meditation comes in many forms. A simple meditation is one where you notice your breathe. Inhale through your nose to the count of four or more. Exhale slowly, with lips puckered, through your mouth for as long as you can. As you exhale, listen to the sounds you make. Notice how it feels to breathe in and out. Do you notice a difference in how your face feels as you let go of the tension? Repeat as many times that are comfortable for you, keeping in mind the saying, “take 10 deep breaths.” Take 10 Through Out the Day.
Manage Your Health
• Keep a health notebook: You can now do this on-line.
• Maintain healthy habits by:
Eating whole foods-at least five servings of fruits and vegetables daily;
- Reducing sugar & caffeine in your diet;
- Limiting alcohol to a glass of wine daily if allowed with current medications;
- Regular exercise as health permits (consider yoga, Tai Chi and Qigong);
- Getting sufficient sleep
• Keep medical appointments
• Join a support group to help yourself and so you can help others
Use an advocate to help you navigate the medical system and to support you.
• Recognize you are in charge of your health care and act accordingly
• Identify resources in your community that can help you get what you need
• Develop and maintain good relationships with your health providers