Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Bouncing Back When Life Knocks You Down


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Everyone gets thrown for a loop by life from time to time, but when you're living with the ramifications of a debilitating chronic illness, this seems to happen all the time. Whatever expectations you had for yourself and your life seem like a sick joke, and it becomes clear that whatever control you thought you had doesn't exist. So how do you bounce back when life kicks your butt?

Here are 5 tips for preparing yourself to respond with resilience next time life comes out of left field and ruins your plans:

1. Develop stress-management skills. Practice these at all times so your coping muscles are well-trained when you need to rely on them. Guided relaxation and mindfulness meditation are great tools for this. Check out my posts tagged with meditation and behavioral pain management for more ideas about developing these skills.

2. Practice self-care. Self-care involves all the day-to-day practices of healthy living. Exercising, eating right, getting the correct amount of sleep (not too little or too much), not drinking too much or using recreational drugs and practicing relaxation techniques are all part of self-care.  (For more about self-care, check out this Psychology Today article: Self-care in a toxic world.)

3. Develop a strong support system. Who can you count on when the stakes are high? Know who these people are so you can call upon them when things get rough. For me this includes my husband, immediate family, close real life friends and message board friends (including fellow chronic buddies).

4. Practice staying in the moment. A set back right now says nothing about your entire life or what will happen as soon as tomorrow. As Toni Bernhard says in her weather practice (in her book How to Be Sick), "The weather blew the discomfort in and may blow it out at any moment."

5.  Just breathe. Sometimes when you're upset, regular, healthy breathing is one of the first things to go. I know it is for me. When I slow down and focus on taking controlled, relaxing breaths it almost always helps me do all the other things that help me cope when life throws me a curve ball.


Content by Diana E. Lee.

DISCLAIMER: Nothing on this site constitutes medical or legal advice. I am a patient who is engaged and educated and enjoys sharing my experiences and news about migraines, pain and depression. Please consult your own health care providers for advice on your unique situation.