By Liza Zoellick.
Being positive is not easy when you are looking down a long, dark tunnel of chronic illness, that may not ever get one smidge better. I am acutely aware of this and still, I truly make an effort to be positive because I believe positivity matter in the long run. This is not to say that being positive will cure you, only that I think being positive inspires you and keeps you motivated on days where you just want to give up. And there are going to be days where you just want to give up. But, your mental state can be a game changer and being positive in the face of chronic pain very important. So how do you stay positive when it feels like your body is trying to sabotage you? I think you have to make an effort to be a little bit positive every day. Don’t ask too much from yourself and if you find you fail in your efforts, forgive yourself and try tomorrow. Here are eight ways I keep positive and keep my mental outlook bright.
8.) I BuJo. BuJo is actually short for “bullet journaling.” A Brooklyn-based artistic director, Ryder Carroll, is credited with this new way to jot down ideas and tasks using two old-school tools: pen and paper. It can be as simplistic or artistic as you want. Mine is very minimalistic but I have a page where I jot down positive quotes and inspiring mantras that I look at several times a day.
7.) Post-it notes around the house with reasons to be thankful and reasons to keep positive. As chronic pain patients, we are left to the inside of our heads a lot and that isn’t good. We need to have visual reminders of those things that make us happy and those things that give us reason to live. Buy a colorful array of post-it notes and on them write things like: BFF [insert name], dog or cat or both, family, kids, husband, wife, and anyone who motivates you to live your best life. It doesn’t have to be a living thing either. It could be a passion. Like for me, writing. A hobby you enjoy, for me table-top gaming. You just need visuals to remind you and catch your eye. You don’t want those notes in some obscure corner where you avoid it.
6.) Build yourself a support group. Reach out to those support groups you are already on and see if you can’t build yourself a private little group. Discord and Skype are excellent and you can have group conversations. So is the instant messenger in Facebook, though you have to be a Facebook user. Skype and Discord don’t cost anything to sign up and you can even have group chats live. The people in these groups will become your anchor when you are having a bad day and you will be theirs also.
5.) Become an advocate for patients facing the same issues you are, or simply advocate for the illness you are facing to shed light on it. There is no hard in spreading the word, because the more people are educated about it, the less likely they are to disbelieve us.
4.) The Good Things List. Write down a list of good things, good people and all those things that make you happy and make life worth the difficult times.
3.) Find the Dark side, of humor. Humor really does help distract from not only your situation, but your pain as well. Remind yourself of the funny aspects of chronic illness/pain, like [And I’m no comedian so bear with me]:
- You really wish there was a Dr. House to determine the underlying cause of all your ailments.
- Your doctors no longer see you as a patient, but more akin to a colleague because you know more about your illness than they do.
- You’ve become so knowledgeable in medicine that you have sent friends to the doctor with a preliminary diagnosis only to come back and say you are right and they sit their mystified at what you know. You’d like to start charging for your diagnostics, but it’s frowned upon since you don’t have a license.
2.) Fill your visual with beautiful things. I don’t mean a spending spree for paintings or new décor. What I mean is stepping outside, look at the beauty of nature. Set up a hummingbird feeder, watch how they fly when they hover drinking the nectar. Study the squirrels and butterflies. Look at the snow and ice crystals. Surround yourself with beauty, whatever it might be for you.
1.) Be mindful. Be present. Sometimes being mindful and being present really makes you aware of what you have and how lucky you are. People mistake being mindful for ignoring the difficulties in one’s life, but it’s the opposite. It’s acknowledging the difficulties and pushing through them or making changes in your life to better things.
Liza is a chronic pain warrior from Houston who has been chronicling her journey through chronic pain and illness on her blog: https://lovekarmafood.com. She is a frequent and valued contributor to the National Pain Report.