Navigating chronic illness can present more than its fair share of challenges, but with the right strategies and mindset, it is possible to lead a fulfilling and rewarding life. It is expected and perfectly okay to have difficult moments and turbulent emotions throughout sustained periods of adversity. Finding joy doesn't mean ignoring the challenges that inevitably present but rather finding ways to thrive despite them. It means being patient with yourself, and remembering that even small, singular steps can ultimately lead to significant improvements in your overall well-being and joy in life.
According to two-time kidney transplant recipient (who has lived with kidney disease for one-third of his life) Gregory S. Works, author of “Triumph: Life on the Other Side of Trials, Transplants and Transformation,” here are some tactical ways to achieve that:
Accepting your condition is the first step towards effectively managing it. Acknowledge that your life might be different from what you initially imagined, but there are still many possibilities for happiness and fulfillment.
Build a Support Network
Surround yourself with understanding and caring individuals – family, friends, or support groups – who can provide emotional support and practical assistance when needed.
Learn as much as you can about your condition from reliable sources. Understanding your illness empowers you to make informed decisions about your treatment and lifestyle choices.
Set Realistic Goals
Adjust your goals to align with your current capabilities. Celebrate every achievement, no matter how small, as each step counts towards progress.
Manage Stress and Practice Self-Care
Chronic illness can be emotionally taxing. Practice techniques that experts have proven to reduce stress such as mindfulness, meditation, yoga, deep breathing or prayer to improve your overall mental well-being. It’s also helpful to engage in activities that bring you joy and relaxation, such as hobbies, exercise, spending time in nature or reading.
Advocate for Yourself
Be an active participant in your healthcare journey. Communicate openly with your healthcare providers, ask questions, and express your concerns to ensure you receive the best possible care.
Adapt and Modify with Positive Routines
Be flexible in adapting to your changing needs. Modify your daily routines, work arrangements, or social activities to accommodate your health requirements. Establish a daily routine that includes positive habits and activities. Structure can provide a sense of stability and control, even during challenging times.
Celebrate Small Victories
Recognize and appreciate the small victories and progress you make each day. Finding joy in small moments can bring immense satisfaction.
Find Meaning and Purpose
Find activities that give you a sense of purpose and joy. Pursue hobbies, volunteering, or creative outlets that bring fulfillment and a sense of accomplishment.
Limit Negative Influences
Cultivate a positive mindset and focus on the aspects of life that bring joy and happiness. Surround yourself with positive influences and try to let go of negativity. Minimize exposure to negative news, social media, or toxic relationships that may contribute to feelings of stress and sadness. Surround yourself with positive and uplifting content and people.
Appreciate the things you still have and the experiences you can enjoy. Gratitude can shift your focus from what you lack to what you have.
Even if your condition limits your physical abilities, technology allows for connections. Maintain social relationships through phone calls, video chats, or social media.
Mindfulness and Presence
Practice being present in the moment and cultivate mindfulness. Engage fully in the activities you enjoy, even if they are simple. Mindfulness can help you appreciate the small joys that may often go unnoticed.
Focus on What You Can Control
While some aspects of your life may be beyond your control, focus on the things you can influence. Concentrate your energy on taking positive actions rather than dwelling on what you cannot change.
Build resilience by reframing challenges as opportunities for growth. Learn from difficult experiences and use them to become stronger and more resilient.
Accept that life is imperfect, and setbacks are a natural part of the journey. Be kind to yourself and avoid self-criticism when facing challenges.
Engage in Acts of Kindness
Helping others and performing acts of kindness can be a source of joy and fulfillment. Small acts of kindness can make a big difference, both for others and yourself.
Humor can be a powerful tool to cope with adversity. Find moments of laughter and joy, even in difficult situations.
Visualize a Bright Future
Allow yourself to envision a better future, filled with joy and happiness. Visualization can help create a positive outlook and motivate you to work towards your dreams.
Be Patient with Yourself
Living with a chronic illness can be frustrating. Remember to be patient with yourself and treat yourself with the same compassion you would show to others.
“Challenges are inevitable, but the decisions we make—whether to face them or flee—can profoundly impact our ability to overcome or be overtaken by trials, pain, and suffering in our lives," Works says.
Everyone’s journey with chronic illness is unique, and what works for one person may not work for another. It's crucial to find a personalized approach that suits your needs and helps you live a fulfilling life despite the challenges you face.
About the Author
Merilee Kern, MBA is an internationally-regarded brand strategist and analyst who reports on cultural shifts and trends as well as noteworthy industry change makers, movers, shakers and innovators across all categories, both B2C and B2B. This includes field experts and thought leaders, brands, products, services, destinations and events. Merilee is Founder, Executive Editor and Producer of “The Luxe List” as well as Host of the “Savvy Living” lifestyle TV show that airs in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Miami, Atlanta and other major markets on CBS, FOX and other top networks; as well as the “Savvy Ventures” business TV show that airs nationally on FOX Business TV and Bloomberg TV. Merilee also hosts the Savvy Ventures Podcast & Radio show available globally on W4CY Radio—the #1 ranked live streaming radio station—among others as well as all major podcast platforms, including Pandora, Audible, Spotify, Amazon Music, Apple Podcasts, Streamyard, iHeart Radio and dozens more. As a prolific lifestyle, travel, dining and leisure industry voice of authority and tastemaker, Merilee keeps her finger on the pulse of the marketplace in search of new and innovative must-haves and exemplary experiences at all price points, from the affordable to the extreme. Her work reaches multi-millions worldwide via broadcast TV (her own shows and copious others on which she appears) as well as a myriad of print and online publications. Connect with her at www.TheLuxeList.com and www.SavvyLiving.tv