Unfortunately, life is frequently full of frustrations of various sorts, and various magnitudes. Out of all the heartbreaking and unfair things that can happen to someone, suffering as a result of a serious and protracted illness is right up there.
A serious illness has the potential to throw your entire life into disarray, stall your career, put strain on your intimate relationships, and cause significant overall decrease in quality of life.
If you’ve been dealing with a protracted health issue of any type, it’s very important to keep your spirits up, and to take whatever steps are available to you to move your life in a more positive overall direction. Perhaps above all, you should prevent your health condition from demoralizing you and holding you back any more than it absolutely has to.
As there are many different sorts of chronic health conditions that can afflict someone, with many different levels of severity, it’s not possible to apply a one size fits all template when trying to deal with such an issue.
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But a major component of dealing with a protracted state of ill health, and moving forward, is to maintain a positive and productive frame of mind.
Of course, this is always easier said than done. Nonetheless, here are a few tips that you might find useful.
Practice stoic philosophy – focus on what’s in your sphere of control, not what outside of it
For most people, the term “stoicism” doesn’t immediately bring to mind thoughts of philosophy, but rather of people who are overly stern, do their best never to smile, and appear to be more or less trying to keep a poker face at all times day and night.
Take a deeper look, however, and you’ll see that the stoic philosophy – originally developed in ancient Greece and Rome – is a practical template for how to view and relate to the world, that can have a remarkable impact on your well-being and sense of control in life.
The stoic philosophy, essentially, argues that it’s ultimately unproductive to focus on things that are outside of your control. For the ancient Stoics, including the philosopher Epictetus, and the philosopher-Emperor Marcus Aurelius, things that are “outside of our control” include essentially everything other than our own choices and actions.
No matter how good or fortunate a person’s life is, there will always be spheres – many, in fact – where they wield very little, if any control. When you’re suffering from a drawnout illness, that territory only expands.
The Stoics teach that happiness and a good life come from being content in acting rightly, not in external happenings.
Throughout the ages, many people in incredibly dark circumstances – including tortured prisoners of war, and people with serious health conditions – have found solace in the Stoic message.
Practicing a Stoic approach to life can help to empower you by making you aware of all the choices you do have, rather than the ones you don’t.
Structure your ambitions and “to dos” and focus on doing at least one uplifting and productive thing each day
At the best of times, it’s easy to drift through life and “go with the flow, without paying much heed to particular plans, goals, and structured frameworks.
When you’re suffering from a protracted illness, it can be even harder to focus on planning your actions out and moving yourself forward intentionally in a given domain of your life.
Nonetheless, it’s precisely in these kinds of circumstances where structuring your ambitions, writing out your “to do is”, and getting intentional is of the most value.
To chase away disheartenment. Set yourself goals, make plans, and focus on doing at least one uplifting and productive thing each day, no matter how little you feel like it, or how small the action is.
Cut out as many of the non-essential and stress-boosting everyday frustrations as you possibly can
These days, we live in highly distracted times. There are always 1,000,001 entertainment options dragging our attention this way and that, and an infinite number of different ways to procrastinate.
On top of that, there are chores and obligations that we don’t much care for, but that we engage in anyway.
When dealing with a difficult illness, you need to salvage as much of your time, energy, and focus as possible. To a large extent, that means doing whatever you can to cut out as many of the non-essential and stress-boosting everyday frustrations as possible.
Free up your time, attention, and energy, and commit them to things that uplift you. Spend more time with family, and less time sweating the small stuff.
CANDY TAI is a wife to David and mom of 5 with a degree in Communications. She's a native Texan (Hook 'Em Horns!) who's been making her home in the Kansas City metro area for nearly 15 years. She loves being able to shuffle her kids from their various sports activities, piano lessons, and school activities. She enjoys fashion, beauty, reality TV, and moviegoing.