Setting Priorities With Chronic Illness

You're having a flare, there's a pile of paperwork on your desk, you have to reschedule a meeting and your phone notifications keep adding up. Don't worry I got your back. Living the chronic life is all about setting priorities.

1. Health

1.1 Physical Health

When a friend sends me a message apologizing for not replying sooner due to illness, I always tell them that health comes first. I think everyone can agree with that. Whether you're healthy or not. Do you notice how we all wish each other good health on New Year's Day? And how parents don't care about the gender of the baby as long as it is healthy?

Of course, we need to listen to our bodies and take care of ourselves. You need to make sure you rest enough, take your meds and get your treatment. But some days we're lucky that our physical health is manageable. Doing things that make you happy is just as important as going to a doctor's appointment. Sometimes pushing through pain is okay in order to feel mentally better.

1.2 Mental Health

It's important you figure out what is worth it to be in more pain the next day and what's not. I, for example love shopping. I know it'll brighten my day if I go to the city and browse through clothes. But for you it might be not worth your spoons and you'd rather spend them on going to a football game. It's different for everyone.

2. Ambitions

Whether you're attending online classes, working half-time or need financial health support, we all have interests and ambitions we want or need to invest time in. It's so important to find a good rest-work balance but it's extremely difficult and it's going to take time till you find a routine that works best for you.

I used to be pretty good at it while I was doing student work for Chronic Connection and going to business class. But now that I have my own company, I find it so much harder. A lot has changed and being officially an adult also implies paying taxes, insurances etc. It is super easy to get suck into overdoing things when your job comes with a lot of responsibility. Your body will eventually crash and cause a huge flare up.

I'm still learning every day how to do things without damaging my body. It's all about figuring out what schedule fits you. This is going to look different for everyone. Some people feel better in the evening, others feel better in the morning. Maybe you are able to work every day for one hour? While others prefer working a full day and take a few days off to recover. On your journey to find that balance you're going to need a good support system that will guide and help you.

3. Social

I know not everyone has the privilege of having a good network. That's why it's so important to reach out. The chronic illness community is full of kind people who are there to give advice or to be your friend. But a relationship always involves both giving and taking. I know, living with an illness makes it hard to stay in touch with people. Some days my brain fog is so bad I have trouble to send a simple text. It's okay to put your phone away on a bad day but always make sure to invest time in the people who are worth your energy. Those are the kind of people that give you even more energy and bring out the best in you. You can't expect them to be there for you if you are not there for them.

Showing you appreciate someone doesn't have to cost a lot of money or energy. Just sending them a funny gif or leaving a kind note will mean more to them than you'd think. The little things do matter in life. Sometimes it's okay to cut out people that bring out negative feelings (indented or not). After all it's your life and we only have a minimum amount of spoons so use them wisely.

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