Five tips on how to live with a chronic illness and still thrive

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hello and welcome back,

In my last blog post I highlighted there are about 117 million people in the United States living with one or more chronic illnesses such as diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, cancer, obesity, arthritis, etc.

Do not isolate yourself. I thrived through a diagnosis of cancer. As a practicing primary care specialist and professional life coach, I know what it felt like to be on the other side facing my mortality head on.

I opted for the support of my life coach, my support network and tapped into my innate wisdom to become my best teacher through this journey.

Through my experience, having been a patient as well as a practicing physician, I have chosen to be a stand for other people living with a chronic illness or life-threatening diagnosis.

Below, are five tips  I learned from my journey. I share them with the hope that they can help others.

Tip number one- pay close attention to your mental, physical and emotional wellbeing

Know that you will experience a myriad of emotions when facing a chronic illness. Your mind and body have just received some life-altering news. Be kind to yourself. Try to make healthy adjustments to your diet and exercise regimen. When considering making a change, consider making simple, small steps Your body is in a state of heightened alert right now. This heightened state causes a rise in the stress hormone called cortisol. If cortisol is released continuously into the body due to prolonged stress, it can have harmful effects. Your body is doing its best to heal. It needs your help. Seek out ways to support your overall wellbeing.

For example, explore practices that allow you to become more centered such as yoga, qi gong, tai chi, diaphragmatic breathing, etc. Look for ways to support or cultivate a spiritual practice. Consider taking on a mindfulness practice. Current research suggests a benefit when it comes to healing that the mind-body connection is essential. For more information on how your mindset affects living with chronic illness click here

Tip number two- choose a healthcare provider that is the right fit for you

You should have confidence in your healthcare provider. I recall when I casually shared my cancer diagnosis with another physician over lunch. He seemed to think that the treatment option being offered me was a little too extreme and that perhaps I should get a second opinion.
But I had confidence in my surgeon. He had taken the time to outline the plan of care, and so I did not feel I needed to get a second opinion.

If you have any doubts or questions, you may want to get a second opinion. Having the right healthcare provider is vital your overall wellbeing.

You need to be proactive in searching for a healthcare provider who is the right fit for you.

For some tips on how to choose the right healthcare provider click here.

Tip number three- take regular social media and internet fasts

One of the first things people do when they are experiencing an illness is to turn to the internet and social media. Remember not everything on the internet is right! Remember that people posting their experiences on social media are just that-their experiences!

You can use the internet and social media to network with other people going through a similar experience as yours.There are many reputable websites. But be careful about information overload. Do not spend countless hours online reading up symptoms. Try not to stay connected 24/7. Consider taking some downtime so that you do not suffer from information overload.

Tip number four- ask for the support of friends and family

People react differently to being diagnosed with a chronic illness. Some people may choose to isolate themselves from friends and family as a coping mechanism. This kind of behavior is not healthy. Isolation can lead to high levels of stress. As humans, we thrive on being connected. People want to know if they can help. Do not be afraid to ask for what you need.

One way you can do this is to create a support system rather than depending on one person. So you have different people who you can call on for different things. For more information on how to build a support system click here.

Tip number five- Learn to define a new normal

You cannot ignore being diagnosed with a life-threatening condition or living with a chronic illness. Too often we spend a lot of idle time and energy pining for the way things used to be, rather than focus on where we are right this moment. Learning to define a new normal is perhaps one of the most empowering things you can do for yourself.

So how do you know what your new normal is?

A new normal differs from one person to the next. Defining a new normal is a journey of self-discovery. I think it is important that people living with a chronic illness should not give up and sit around waiting for the worst to happen.  It is easy to become the person living with diabetes, or cancer or hypertension. Do not allow yourself to be defined by your illness.

Today I call myself a THRIVOR, not just a survivor. In my opinion, a survivor is someone who has just made it through a challenging circumstance.

THRIVOR is a word I coined to mean someone who has taken the lessons learned, is better for it and is choosing to thrive in their lives.

My mission is to create a global online platform providing women living with a chronic illness with tools and support in order to THRIVE.

I invite you to join me in creating this empowering tribe.

To your health and wellbeing,