Finding yourself unexpectedly in the middle of a health crisis can be a shock. Life after D-Day (diagnosis day) often looks very different than the life you enjoyed before getting sick. Life doesn’t have to be gloomy while you reclaim your health, though. Here are 4 tips for finding your way to positive thinking through a health crisis:
1. Write it out. Beyond the actual fear of what your diagnosis means for your future, there are other factors you need to process, like how your perception of yourself changes when you go from a healthy person to someone who is ill. Journaling can be a great way to work through these feelings and help you come to terms with your current situation. It can also be a great tool for tracking your symptoms. You don’t need to write a daily list of every ache or pain, but if something new pops up it doesn’t hurt to record it so you can give your doctor an accurate timeline of what you're experiencing. As an added bonus, your journal doesn’t ask stupid questions or try to fix you: it just listens and understands.
2. Love yourself. Don’t skimp on the self-care. You will be touched and poked and prodded by all kinds of medical professionals in sterile environments. Taking care of your emotional health is important, too. Schedule a spa day whenever you feel like the medical stuff is getting a bit too intense. The gentle, calming touch of a massage or facial can soothe your weary nerves. Be kind to yourself and recognize that being sick is hard work and you deserve a little pampering.
3. Sweat it out. Even if the last thing you want to do is exercise, working out (with your doctor’s blessing) can be a huge mood booster. Get the blood pumping and the endorphins running through your veins. Exercise is an excellent way to work off stress and tension and is a positive change to make toward leading a healthier life. It can also help you see yourself as healthy and vital instead of sick and frail.
4. Connect with your inner hippie. You don’t have to dance naked under the light of a full moon but developing a mindfulness practice can bring comfort during a chaotic time. Keeping your mind in the present without worrying about the future is tremendously difficult when you’re faced with a serious illness. Try meditation (there are lots of great apps out there to guide you through it if you’re a beginner) or join a yoga studio. Or dance naked under the light of a full moon. There’s no judgment here.
How do you stay happy while navigating the turbulent waters of a health crisis?
Hillary Westover is a part-time serious office person, part-time aspiring creative, and a full-time mama of one spirited little guy. She loves baked goods, kitchen dance parties, and people who spell her name with two Ls. You can find her on Twitter @hillarywith2Ls.