If you enjoyed Chronic Illness Tips #1, I hope this second installation is inspiring for you as well.
One of the worst things about having any chronic illness is that it can make you feel worthless sometimes. For me, bad days come and I can’t do much. Add to that my depression and anxiety and it’s the perfect mix to bring anyone down.
From that I have learned that I need things in my life that I know I can conquer. That I have purpose. That making little differences or achieving just the smallest goals is tremendously good for my soul.
So here are a few more things that are just small gestures and simple tasks, but again, they make me feel like I’ve accomplished something. Also, I’ll show you how I conjure up a grand plan and peck away at it, in minute steps if I must, in order to get it done.
Start With Other People in Your Life
I know this is kind of vague, but see if you can do something for some of the people in your life. A friend, a caretaker or even the grocery boy who helps you put bags in your car. It doesn’t have to be elaborate, maybe just a little handwritten note. You will be surprised at how good it feels to acknowledge and thank the person or people who help to take care of you. They feel warm and fuzzy and you feel like you’ve accomplished something wonderful. Because it is wonderful to let people know how much you appreciate them.
On the More Practical Side
Exercise? I can’t stand more than 10 minutes without a ton of pain. But I know exercise and particularly stretching are of vital importance. And again, accomplishing just a small amount is a great rush for your body and soul.
But sometimes, with all of the woes that come with chronic illness, we have to adapt, adapt, adapt. For me that means:
- No jumping around
- No twisting up into knots.
It’s a wonderful step by step guide that attempts to work around any pain issues you may have.
Next, try Popsugar’s stretches in bed.
Maintaining flexibility is imperative unless you want to end up with poor posture, difficulty reaching for things and even having a hard time bending down to tie your shoes. Soon after that, you won’t be able to walk well, you will hobble instead. So do yourself a favor and stay limber!
There are many, many modified exercise routines available, so search depending on your particular needs. And yes, they even have exercises for the easily fatigued! Also, don’t forget swimming. It is one of the best exercises for overall health if you are able to do it. Plus it is very difficult to seriously injure yourself while doing it!
Little Tasks (Again)
Alright, so a little splash of gratitude and a bit of exercises and stretching can certainly go a long way. But what can we get done on difficult days so we can at least point to a few things, no matter how small, that we accomplished during a day? Read on and let the cheering begin!
I can’t stand up for long, or I’m pretty much on the couch. What to do? Here’s some new changes I’ve been making:
- Start folding your clothes vertically in your dresser drawers. This is based on the KonMari method of organization. You stack your clothes vertically too, instead of piling them on top of each other…you can always see what you have! And you can do it sitting down. Try it one drawer at a time or do the whole thing if you like it.
- Sort through your pills and medicine cabinet
- Line your fridge with Glad press and seal to catch spills
- Wash one window. Or maybe two
- Organize and wipe down your headboard
- Sort through loose paperwork at your office or in the kitchen
- Sit and polish any silver
- Sort through kid’s drawers and cull clothes they’ve outgrown
- Get rid of some of your shoes (Yes, you can!)
- Sort through magazines
- Plan out the next upcoming holiday (birthday, Easter…) Make a tentative menu and appropriate arrangements and list the phone calls to be made. Get a step ahead of the game!
- Sign up for an online course. There are literally thousands of them for free! It can be something useful or something just for fun. Try Kahn Academy to start.
- Or check out this mammoth list of everything under the sun. And again, all free!
Sometimes you just have to tackle bigger projects. I remember wanting to repaint and redecorate my downstairs hallway but thinking I could never get it done. It was too overwhelming. So I tried this one day:
First I broke it down into “layers” and listed out even the most basic tasks that needed to be done (ie, empty room, get the paint, etc.)
I started working on the first “layer” for 20 minutes, then rested. Then I went back for 10 minutes more. I rested again. When I felt ready I finished what I could for that day with 5 more minutes!!
It didn’t matter how far I got with each session, but I found if I stuck to the 20/10/5 minute example I was always moving forward, no matter how small it might be. And I wasn’t running myself ragged.
Maybe this is an example of extreme pacing and you probably think I’m nuts but this is what I can tolerate. I can make progress with this scenario. You’re needs and energy are different so play around with it and set a schedule that makes you comfortable.
What I like about this plan is that if you stick to it you will eventually see the project start to come together. That is such a wonderful feeling! Also, as you get more tired, each amount of time spent working on the task at hand diminishes. It saves you from wearing yourself out.
Just be diligent and it will get done. And you won’t be sick for a week afterwards, which makes it well worth it!
These are just some of the latest things I’ve been working on during off times with lower energy. I hope they can help spark some of your own ideas and make them work for you.
Tell me, what are some of your best tips on getting things done with a chronic illness? I would love to hear from you!