5 Easy Hacks When Recovering From A Chronic Illness

Sometimes life isn’t all plain sailing. It can be downright tough and bear down on you; leaving you drained, depressed, not the same person anymore. You might find that you are left wondering how you can raise yourself.

When you have been through such a radical time it makes no sense at all that you continue to live the same way or do the same things you have always done up to this point. There will need to be changes made to see yourself through to any kind of recovery. When you are fighting your way from behind and striving to find yourself again, it’s a good time to take stock of your whole life. It is kind of forced upon you. 

You may choose to overhaul your relationships, with close friends and family coming under scrutiny. Loved ones may have to exit stage right. Finances can come under close inspection. Your mental wellbeing becomes everything. Is your diet serving you? You’ll take a deep look at your physical state after taking a battering from illness.

Now then, granted, that some of us detest change. It takes effort and dedication. We can talk about it. We know what everyone else should do. Armchair doctors and advisors. So very easy to make big life changes for others. Making changes ourselves however, well that’s another thing altogether! Isn’t it?

How far you go is mainly a matter of personal choice. 

Here are 5 areas that can propel you into a better space straight away…

  1. You Most Definitely Are What You Eat

Making changes to what you eat can be completely overwhelming. Seeing a nutritionist is brilliant but mind-blowing in many ways. There are so many amazing ideas and suggestions coming at you it’s almost too much to take it all in. Many nutritionists like to fill you with supplements. Some of them can be great but don’t overload yourself. Finding a Nutritionist that suits you and matches your attitude and goals is very important.

Taking control of 2 or 3 key areas of your diet will be a great start. We can all just about cope with 2 or 3 good changes. Get on top of those and make them a part of your lifestyle before you tackle the next. Start to feel the benefit of removing some bad habits and replacing them with good healthy ones will bring about almost immediate results. When you are in control – take on the next batch. 

Building stepping stones is the key. Look for them to place in your daily life and when you are planning. Get organised with your meals so that you aren’t caught out.

365 Days of Nutrition works very steadily like this. One message a day. Guiding you steadily to better eating habits. To begin with, it may take a while to get yourself into the mindset, but as the messages arrive into your inbox day after day for a whole year you find it starts to make a deep impact on you and you didn’t even notice! You can reach it here http://www.365daysofnutrition.com/ it’s at a steal of a price and gives you so much to build upon throughout the year. A gift to yourself or a friend for a year; support for a lifetime.

  1. Walk your way to success

When you are confined to a bed or the sofa and you find yourself on a good day, you dream about doing exercise. What you are going to do? Why you will be pushing yourself? How you are going to do it? Who with? When you are going to start? Yes. When are you going to start? 

Often you are too enthusiastic and set a date that was all but a pipedream. Don’t be too hard on yourself when you have been pushed through a trauma. All in good time.

A great idea to get yourself back in the game is getting out in nature and taking a short walk. Head to a river and walk along the towpath, take yourself down to the beach and walk as far as you can (remembering you must do the same back!), wander through the woods – an ever-changing delight. Walking is great for your soul too. All the massive problems you took on the walk with you tend to get into line and come back a little bit smaller, even if you can’t leave them out there.

If you usually love cycling or aerobic exercise or something else a little more vigorous, walking is a great way back into your preferred way to getting your heart rate up. Until you can do what you usually do for exercise, be kind, be patient and enjoy the outdoors.

Of course, while we are talking about change and making your life work for you, why not throw something new into the mix? Pilates, paddle-boarding, ice-skating, trampolining. For sure you must take advice from your doctor here or if you have been discharged don’t overdo it!!

  1. Own oxygen mask first

What are we saying? That’s not how life works! Don’t the children and my partner and parents and my boss and, and, and… all come first?

Well, they can if that’s what you think is good for you; but ultimately, it’s not. It’s not good for you to put yourself at the back of a very long queue, every time. Often what got you into your challenging time is through not taking best care of yourself, and you didn’t even notice! It quietly slips around you like a cloak, that you are doing all of these things for others and you find yourself operating on fumes.

When you fill your own heart up with love and goodness and kindness and self-care, you have so much more to give out to others. That seems ludicrous, doesn’t it? A total about-turn for many people. The truth is that when you get this going and flowing, there is so much more to give out to your loved ones. Try it for a month. Try giving yourself some deep self-care and claiming time for the things that you love. Because every time you have said in the past that you will do that later… you don’t!

A great way to begin looking after yourself on top of exercise is to meditate. Switch off. Quieten the whole system. Let your brain rest a while. Creating space in your brain is where your finest moments come. You leave the rush behind you just for 5 minutes, allowing your body and your mind to do what it knows best.

  1. Rest a while

In the past, we have all heard stories of celebrities, Prime Ministers and superheroes surviving on just 4 hours sleep a night. A favourite one being Margaret Thatcher who used to hand that little juicy nugget out like it was a gold trophy. The truth when you look deeper into that statement is more likely to be ‘I’ve hit the bloody menopause and I can’t sleep to save my life!’ Or some such reason. Yes, we have all had just a few hours’ sleep on occasion, but as a regular occurrence? It is depleting in every way for your body. 

Some people need a solid 9 hours. Others can put their head on the pillow and wake exactly 7 hours later. Take the time to work it out for yourself. Try without the alarm when you can and you will be surprised to find quite quickly that you find your pace. Just don’t be late for work because you were reading this great article that said you don’t need your alarm! 

You can find no end of amazing books written on this subject but in the main take away the strain and look after yourself with some proper rest.

  1. Connect the dots

The human dots that is. We are human beings which means we like being. Being with others that can feed our souls is vital to our wellbeing. We are not talking about people that we can sit and moan with (although that may have its place on occasion), but people that can elevate your soul.

The walking we touched on earlier can be done with a good friend or even a new one. Arrange to meet a different person for coffee each week. This is especially important if you live on your own or solo parent. Take it as your responsibility to connect the dots for yourself.

The litmus test is that if you feel like your very insides are being dragged down below the line… not to be with that person again. If you find you are lit up by someone’s presence then bingo! This carries like a thread through the whole of your life by the way.

Another way of connecting the dots and by far the most rewarding is reaching out to do good for another. Either by volunteering, taking a cake round to an elderly neighbour, offering a lift to the hospital. Often when you have been through a bruising yourself you can lose sight of the fact that there are other needy people around you. Taking the opportunity to help someone else will for sure lift you and distract you from your own recovery tactics.

There we have it. 5 quick wins. Things you can do every day for yourself. If that little demon in the back of your head pipes up with ‘yes but it’s not that easy for me’, tell it to shut up!

Deborah Fielding is a breast cancer survivor, award-winning mentor, writer and speaker. She has created http://www.365daysofbreastcancer.com/ to support others going through the same. http://www.365daysofnutrition.com/ to encourage people to make small improvements in their nutrition and http://www.365daysofcancers.com/to support people going through other cancers.