As I’ve mentioned in earlier posts, Instagram has become an absolute treasure trove of practical information for people living with chronic illness.
Here are 12 ways spoonies just like you cope with the stress of living with an invisible illness while having fun at the same time!
When living with a chronic illness, stubbornness can be both your best and your worst asset. On the one hand, you’re incredibly determined to not let your condition get the best of you, on the other, you tend to overdo it.
Still, being tenacious and having a fighting spirit is one of the most effective ways to cope with the stress of chronic illness.
Keep on keeping on, spoonie warrior!
An important key to coping with the stress of a chronic illness is physical activity. This may seem like a contradiction because you’re too exhausted to move.
However, those living with chronic illness say that any type of physical activity, whether it be making a change in rooms, organizing, hanging out in the backyard, or taking a walk around the block, helps relieve feelings of helplessness while offering the satisfaction of achieving small goals.
Writing It Down
Out of all of the coping suggestions I’ve gotten over the past few years, autobiographical writing has consistently stayed at the top of the list.
Writing takes the images, thoughts, and fears whirling around in your head and puts them into words you can make sense of.
Journaling, writing a blog, or posting on social media are just a few ways you can relieve your stress through writing while showing others they are not alone.
Crying It Out
Crying may seem counterproductive in dealing with the stress of living with a chronic illness, but it provides more comfort than you might think.
Unlike society teaches us, crying is not a sign of weakness or giving up, it’s a way to let out the pain, fear, frustration, and anger that has been building inside you for so long.
What’s more, crying has been scientifically proven to help ease feelings of stress and anxiety by releasing toxic stress chemicals.
Using Social Media
Connecting with others who understand exactly what you’re going through can be a life-saver.
There is a very large and accepting group of people on social media websites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram who continually support each other and help ease the burden of daily pain.
Look for hashtags such as, #spoonie, #chronicillness, #chronicpain, and #chroniclife.
Watching Mindless Movies
Distracting yourself from your pain can be a very healthy way to cope with the stress of living with a chronic illness.
Watching a movie you don’t have to pay attention to, means you have two socially acceptable hours to stare at one fixed object, let your mind wander, and relax.
(Alternatively, you can get lost in the ridiculous plot and forget your troubles for a while.)
Napping Like It’s Your Job
I don’t know about you, but napping is, by far, my favorite way to cope with my fatigue, anxiety, and feelings of overwhelm. When things get to be too much, I slip in my earbuds, turn on some soothing music, recline in my chair, and take a nap.
Sleeping, like crying, is not a sign of weakness or laziness. It’s simple self-care, and it’s important to engage in it regularly.
Setting and Accomplishing Small Goals
Another piece of useful advice I got from a fellow spoonie is setting small goals.
When you set small goals, you break up your activities into easy-to-manage chunks and get to enjoy that satisfying feeling of accomplishment time and time again.
This way, you resist the urge to do too much because you want to “do all the things” before a flare, or nothing at all because you’re too overwhelmed to get started.
Coloring for Stress Relief
Adult coloring has boomed in popularity, and it’s no wonder! Research has shown that, like meditation, coloring helps the brain switch off other thoughts and focus only on the task at hand.
Looking at Calming Photos
Pinterest is a wonderful place to find calming, relaxing photos to scroll through. Look up hashtags like #nature, #sunset, and #mountains, and you’ll find thousands of boards with gorgeous images to soothe your soul and take your mind away from your troubles.
Not sure where to get started? Check out my ‘Gorgeous Nature Photos’ board, and go from there!
Listening to Music
There’s a lot to be said for the benefits of music therapy for chronic pain.
According to research, adults who listened to music for just one hour each day felt more energized and reported a reduction in pain and depression
According to the study, conducted by researchers Sandra Siedliecki from The Cleveland Clinic, and Marion Good of Case Western Reserve University, it didn’t matter the kind of music the participants listened to. It just mattered that they listened.
Playing Video Games
Playing video games is another fun way to distract yourself from pain for a while. Depending on what you play, video games can also help improve your memory, focus, accuracy, and confidence.
For example, I’ve never been much of a video game person, and, with my cognitive impairment, I was literally afraid of puzzle games. I wouldn’t go near them.
Now that I’ve been playing them a while (on the easiest level, with the hints on), I’ve discovered I can find hidden objects faster and my problem-solving abilities have improved!
Living with a chronic illness is exhausting, painful, and emotionally draining. Learning how to cope with the stress of being sick can help improve your outlook while eliminating that nagging society-induced guilt about practicing self-care.
The term “spoonie” comes from ‘The Spoon Theory’ by Christine Miserandino