Sometimes without really knowing it we are doing things that are holding us back and prevent us from feeling better. We could be improving but we don’t because we make specific choices, often without realizing it. These night actions may be keeping your health from improving.
Chronic illness is chronic, that means it’s never going away completely, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t do things to help you control your symptoms and feel better.
1 . Doing the same thing and expecting different results – So often, we want change but we do nothing to bring that change. Often this is because we are afraid to take the risk of change.
When it comes to living with fatigue-related illnesses and chronic pain it’s easy to see why we might avoid change. Change is difficult, change takes energy, and sometimes change can even have negative results. It’s so much easier to accept the devil we know that risk the devil we don’t. But, change is important.
In 2012, I took a huge risk and decided to stop doing the same things and expecting different results. I threw my diet and lifestyle out the window because I felt I had nothing left to lose. What was the worst that could happen if I juiced for a week, stopped eating gluten, dairy, yeast & eggs? It turned out that nothing bad happened and I gained so much. Juicing for a week helped me replenish some really needed nutrients, and changing my diet overall increased my energy and put a stop to the massive pain and fatigue flares that I’d been living with. I’d disregarded advice to change my diet for so long and continued eating as I always had, because I didn’t understand how it was possible that eating foods I’d eaten my entire life could be causing me these issues. I was wrong. I had to do something different to get different results.
2 . Waiting for the right time to make a change – There will never be a right time. There might be easier times, and there might be harder times, but there will never be the right time.
So many times I’ve heard people say that this just isn’t the best time to make a change. There’s too much going on, too much stress. The feeling is that in order to make a change you have to be able to focus on it 100%. But, the reality is that you’ll never be able to focus 100% on anything. And, you’ll always find a reason to put off change. The best time to make a change is now.
3 . Refusing to take risks – Often we continue on without making changes because we are afraid to take a risk. We are afraid of what might happen. But, the truth is that everything is always a risk. Continuing doing what you are doing now is a risk, because you don’t know the outcome. You only think you know. Making a change is a risk of a different sort. You have to choose your risk.
I took a risk when I changed my diet. I had no idea if there would be a payoff, but I knew the risk of continuing as I was. The risks were equal. In either case, I could see no change at all, or I could even feel worse.
I took a huge risk going back to school to finish my degree. I had no idea if I’d be able to pull it off, especially once I got sick. How would my health impact my ability to finish my classes? Would I have to do it one class at a time? I really hoped not. But, I took the risk and I finished. It was worth it.
4 . Focusing on the wrong moment – If we want to be healthy, internally and externally, mentally and physically, we have to focus on what we are doing and can do today. Yet, too often we get caught up in what went wrong yesterday. How we overdid it yesterday, or how we have big plans for tomorrow.
Instead of getting caught up in how things went wrong yesterday, or what might happen tomorrow, we need to focus on today, on this minute. What can I do right now to improve my health? What are the best foods to eat right now? Am I stressed out? Perhaps I should meditate right now. It doesn't matter what happened yesterday or what might happen tomorrow - those are done and out of your control, just focus on today! Click To Tweet
5 . Not taking responsibility – No, you didn’t cause your illness! But, there are things you can do to help yourself feel better. we can’t just sit around and wait for the doctors to just magically figure out the right mixture of medications to make us feel better. We have to take responsibility and that means researching, reading as much as we can (when we are able) and seeking out options. Share what you learn with your doctor and discuss it. If you have questions, ask them. Just don’t wait on your doctor, or anyone else, to find the answers for you. Take responsibility for your health and take action now.
6 . Closing your mind to new ideas – It’s often difficult to embrace ideas that go against what we currently believe. I can’t count how many times, during those first years after I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, people told me that I should try giving up gluten.
Every time I walked into one particular vitamin shop in town, the manager told me that I should get off gluten (it had helped her so much), oh and eggs, and dairy. That was like my whole diet at one time. I simply wasn’t open to the idea that diet could help me. Heck, even my GI doctor at the time told me that diet had nothing to do with IBS. It took me hitting bottom before I was willing to open my mind to new ideas, and try just anything. Open your mind to new ideas, you never know where it will take you. Click To Tweet
7 . Filling your mind with negativity – I try so hard to stay positive, but it doesn’t always happen. I’m learning, though. And, I have learned that staying focused on the positives of life really helps me avoid stress, and not having that stress really helps my pain levels and fatigue.
A friend saw me out a few weeks ago and he stopped to ask me a question. He said “I’ve wondered this for a long time but I didn’t know how to ask it online without sounding like a jerk. How do you write about pain all the time and not have make you hurt worse?” My response was that I go out of my way not to write about pain. I rarely ever actually talk about the pain I’m in online or in person. I have to be hurting bad enough that I need you to do something before I mention it.
Avoiding thinking about pain doesn’t make it less real, but it does allow me to keep my focus on better things. It allows me to place my focus on other more positive things, like helping people. I avoid negative blogs, I avoid watching the news, and I avoid negative people whenever possible because filling my mind with negativity just increases the pain. 4 Things I Avoid to Keep My Pain Levels Low.
8 . Worrying about what other people think – I’m so guilty of worrying about what others think, and have been all my life. The truth (and I know it) is that other people don’t’ really think about me at all, and certainly if they do they aren’t thinking the thoughts I’d assign to them.
We all waste so much time and energy worrying about what other people think. What will so and so think if I cancel on them again, what will that stranger think if they see me dressed like this, and on and on. The truth is that we are judging ourselves through the eyes of others. Instead we need to be kind to ourselves. What others think really doesn’t matter. All that really matters is what we are doing for ourselves to improve our lives.
9 . Holding onto a past reality – Chronic illness changes us, it changes who we are, and who we will be in life. It often takes away our hopes and dreams. But, most often it just exchanges them and we have to figure out what they’ve been exchanged for. Continuing to hold onto a past reality only leaves us stuck and unable to move forward.
Just because you can no longer be the person you were, or do the things you used to do, it doesn’t mean you are worthless. You still have great value. I have learned so many things since I first became ill. I learned that I can paint, that I can write better than I ever thought I could (and maybe even make a living at it), I learned that my value is not my ability to go and do every day. My ability is within me. I can still learn, I can still love, and I can still try new things. I still have a huge future in front of me, and I’m excited to see what it brings.
As I look at these I know they are things that I will continue to deal with in some way throughout my life. I struggle with each of these, but it’s up to me to make changes and take risks so that I can have a different outcome and a better tomorrow.