- Mindful relaxed effortlessness
To live the best life we can with energy limiting chronic illness we need to avoid the boom bust cycle and stick within our energy envelope. My top tip for achieving this is mindful relaxed effortlessness. Slow everything down and aim for relaxed effortlessness in all that you do and you’ll notice the messages that your body is giving you. If you can’t stay relaxed, if something takes effort, stop and rest. It’s amazing how much life you can live taking it slow and easy, and how much more enjoyable life is when you can avoid dealing with the distorted brain chemicals that tend to accompany a crash or a flare.
- Invest in tomorrow but live for today
We all need hope and we all need to believe in a better future, but that future could be a while in the making so it’s important to learn how to enjoy life as it is. A better future is unlikely unless you do something to make it happen so you have to invest a bit of your energy into better illness management and healthier living skills, but at the same time keep the focus on making the most of the here and now!
- Appreciate the little things
With full health we tend to associate happiness with big events that bring pleasure or excitement, but actually there are small things around us all the time that can also bring that pleasure if we choose to appreciate them. Lots of little moments of pleasure can add up to the same level of happiness as the occasional exciting event. In fact it’s a much more reliable form of happiness as it almost always available. A daily gratitude practice is a good place to start, the more you get into the habit of being grateful for what you have, the more you’ll notice the little things that are available for you to appreciate!
- Loving kindness
Often when we are feeling poorly we feel the need to experience the love of others for consolation. With chronic illness, it’s not unusual for those around us to experience compassion fatigue, and we can find that we just don’t feel loved enough. I’ve learned that the solution to that is to refocus on giving love instead of receiving love. Love doesn’t have to be expressed actively, it’s more a matter of paying attention to the love that you feel; making sure it’s present in your thoughts and actions. When those around you feel your love, they are less likely to experience compassion fatigue. But the bottom line is that being a loving person feels good! Don’t forget to include yourself as a recipient of that loving kindness!
- Be true to your inner nature
True happiness only comes from an expression of our inner nature. Although we might take pleasure in pleasing others we will never enjoy the moment of doing the things that we have to do to please them, unless they are things that we want to do anyway. And with chronic illness we need to learn how to enjoy all the moments! What’s more is that when we are doing things that are a natural expression of our true selves, they flow, they come easy, there is no effort or exertion and we are able to use our limited energy much more efficiently! Some of us may identify ourselves as active, adventurous people who no longer have the energy to express our true nature. However I believe that each person’s nature is far more complex than that. There are always many facets to it and chronic illness often affords us the time to explore how to enjoy expressing the facets of ourselves that have maybe been buried under our more energetic, exuberant selves until our illness hit!
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