It’s that time of year when I wrestle with feelings of envy and jealousy. Friends and family are talking about summer vacations they’ve taken and fun adventures they’ve experienced. A part of me is happy for them but another part is jealous. I want the life of a reasonably healthy person my age. Chronic illness does not take a vacation which means it’s a challenge to take ‘time off’ but it’s not impossible.
It is important to be able to recharge, to have a change of scenery, some fun, and some pampering.
You’re wondering, ‘How can I take time for myself when my illness restricts me so much?’
Here are some things that have helped me:
1. If you need to have a good cry to release some of the grief and frustration that chronic illness brings then by all means, cry it out. These are normal feelings given your situation but you have to find a way to release them.
2. Don’t compare yourself or your situation to others. This is easier said than done but the comparison trap is a joy robber. The quicker you get out of the comparison mindset the sooner you can discover some peace and contentment.
3. Enlist the help of family, friends, and caregivers to brainstorm some ideas that would work for your situation. (Check out the list below for suggestions)
4. Block the biggest portion of time that your situation will allow-a half a day, a whole day, or even a whole week, and plan with intention. Do not schedule appointments for those times unless it is something you 100% want to do. Turn off the energy drains of life as much as you can—phone, facebook, twitter, and computer. By all means distance yourself from negative people—especially during these times!
5. Focus on gratitude. It’s true— acknowledging someone who has helped you or offering encouragement to a friend will leave you feeling good too. Who helps you on a regular basis? Do you have a neighbor who checks in on you from time to time? Do you have a favorite Dr., nurse, or pharmacist? Who could use some encouragement? A note of thanks, a home-made treat, a small gift card, a phone call, are all nice and inexpensive ways to brighten someone’s day.
Ways to pamper yourself and take a break from the routine:
- Add a theme and some color to your day. Rally your team of supporters and friends and have them drop off items that fit your theme or color scheme. Balloons, flowers, wall decals, fun lighting, candles, a themed throw rug, colorful throw pillows—it’s amazing what a change of color and festivity can do to lift the mood. You could add movies or music that fit with your theme too.
- Treat yourself to new pajamas, a new pillow, cozy blanket, or a set of sheets. If you know someone who sews ask them to make you a unique pillow case. Here’s a free pdf
- Arrange for a favorite meal or sweet treat to be delivered.
- Visit a local park when the weather is good; even if all you do is lay down and nap or enjoy the cloud patterns (or the stars if it’s at night) that’s ok. The point is to give yourself a change of scenery and break the monotony.
- Coloring pages. Here are some freebies . These are great color pencils that glide across the page well and don’t require much pressure from your hand.
- Put together a puzzle. Try water color, paint by number, or design a t-shirt. Anything creative or artistic.
- Treat yourself to essential oils. You can use them as air freshener, in a bath, or on your skin.
- Play music that lifts your mood. Try writing a parody of your favorite song.
- Grab a camera and head to your yard or favorite local spot and take pictures. Have fun. Look at things with a new view.
- Get some videos of beautiful scenery to watch
- Buy a book or audiobook that you’ve been wanting to read
- Rent, borrow, or buy movies or binge watch your favorite tv series
- Try thumbprint art
- Start a journal or scrapbook- collect cartoons, funny things that people have said, pictures you love, or your favorite bible verses.
- Find a way to get a mani-pedi or a massage
- Learn something new—there are many online classes for hobbies that are reasonably priced. Check out craftsy or search Youtube for how-to videos.
Life with chronic illness is not easy but you can find ways to create special moments, take breaks, and recharge.
How do you plan to take a break and pamper yourself this week?