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Life doesn’t stop for chronic illness. It just keeps going, and it can be hard to keep up. Sometimes I will look at my calendar for the coming week and it gives me immense anxiety. CVID can feel like a full time job that I have to juggle with the rest of my schedule.
If you are feeling overwhelmed by navigating a busy schedule with a chronic illness, you are not alone! Here are some of my tips on how to make it as bearable as possible.
Don’t make too many commitments
I’m a fairly outgoing person and I always want to say yes to things. I have never wanted CVID to cause me to miss out, which has often resulted in the inability to say no. However, it is important to avoid making too many commitments. After living with the disease for over four years, I have become familiar with my limitations. Some days, all I want to do is lay in bed. Because I suffer from pretty bad fatigue, it’s important that I plan my life accordingly and make a schedule that is feasible and enjoyable. I have to remind myself that it’s okay to say no and prioritize my own well-being.
That being said, I always want to encourage people with chronic illness to live life to the fullest and try new things. You know your body and you’ll intuitively know if you’re pushing yourself too far.
Have your favorite medicine and supplements handy
My boyfriend always jokes that my apartment is like a pharmacy – I have so many different kinds of medicine on deck at all times!
It is extremely useful to keep your favorite medicine and supplements around because you never know when you are going to feel symptoms. The worst feeling is when plans are approaching and you start to feel a certain symptom.
I especially find this necessary for vacations. I want to make traveling as seamless as possible, and I don’t always know if I will have access to the medicine that I prefer. It’s important for me to pack some to bring with me, which gives me a sense of security that I will be okay if illness arises.
If you are in the beginning of your chronic illness journey, you may not know what works best for you yet. I mainly deal with sinus infections, cough, headache, and congestion, so I have found my favorite remedies. It took a few tries to discover which brands work the best.
Take a day off when you are feeling burnt out
You might feel guilty for taking a day off for “no reason.” Usually, we take days off if we have an important appointment, life event, or vacation, so it feels weird to take a day because you are burnt out.
Chronic illness burnout is very real. Constantly dealing with symptoms, mental struggles, appointments, and fatigue really takes a toll on our mind and body. The stress can be so relentless that we start to feel defeated.
Taking a day off is great for stress relief, and it reminds you to take care of yourself. You can relax and reset, which will help you feel refreshed and ready to take on the busy days that come ahead.
Remove high expectations for yourself
There can be a lot of pressure to succeed and perform for others. I have often felt like I am not successful or productive enough. I worry that I am not far enough in life or that I let people down.
The reality is that you are in charge of expectations. You are the only person experiencing your own unique lived experience. Take the weight off of your shoulders and remember that you have already achieved amazing things. Those who genuinely support you will understand your journey and refrain from passing judgment or imposing pressure on you.
You are fighting a battle that many people may not even see. It is beneficial for you to live life at your own pace. If you stress about meeting expectations while also dealing with illness, it can be really harmful for your mental and physical health.
Get plenty of rest
This is probably a no brainer, but it is good to remind ourselves of this every once and a while. Rest serves as a crucial component in the healing process, allowing the body to rejuvenate and repair.
Resting is not being lazy, it is prioritizing your health. If you spend too many days without proper rest, you can seriously damage your mental health.
When life gets busy, it is important to set aside specific times where you can rest. Your body will thank you!
Battling chronic illness is hard, give yourself grace!
You are doing amazing. Life is crazy, and it can come at you really fast. No one pictures a life with constant illness. All we can do is cope the best we can and make our days as joyful as possible.