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4 simple ways to overcome the stress of living with a chronic illness

I'm Anindita!

I am a certified Health Coach and AFMC Practitioner and I help women with autoimmune conditions regain their confidence in their bodies and in themselves by learning how to create long term health using Functional Medicine

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Living with a chronic illness can make us feel as if our body is betraying us. We feel that our body has gone out of control and has become a stranger to us. We may also feel disempowered and helpless about our current situation

It often feels like a mysterious power has taken over our bodies causing unexpected and unexplained symptoms. We also deal with ever changing symptoms ranging from extreme fatigue, dizziness, brain fog, constant pain, recurring infections and other random symptoms.

This means that we often give up complete control over our lives. If we want to have fun with our children, it depends on how we are feeling on that day. If we want to meet our friends, it will depend on our symptoms that day. It affects our ability to work and do complete household chores.

Many of us can reach a stage where we start saying to ourselves-

“I will never get better, what’s the point in even trying?”

Becoming unstuck

This is where many people with severe chronic diseases remain stuck with or without a diagnosis. They keep running from pillar to post hoping to get a proper, accurate diagnosis and some ANSWERS. Unfortunately in autoimmune conditions in particular, these are often hard to come by. As days turn into months and then into years, many people resign themselves to living a life of never ending struggles.

I know what it is to be stuck in a vicious cycle of health issues with no end in sight. My 6 year old daughter’s severe eczema led us down a path of endless doctor’s visits, medications and treatments. Nothing helped to bring her eczema completely under control till I came across Functional Medicine. It was a root cause approach that finally healed her from within.

My own experience taught me TWO important things-

One, you don’t need to WAIT for a diagnosis to start laying the foundations of good health

Two, you can always get better!

It is only after you address the underlying imbalances and deficiencies that you can start getting better. This process does not depend on where you are in terms of getting a confirmed diagnosis. Because irrespective of your diagnosis, you have what it takes to start supporting your body in terms of nutrition, lifestyle, and mindset.

The only home you will ever have

What is often missing is a lack of awareness about the importance of supporting our body’s healing process. When we are very young we are naturally tuned into what our body needs from us. However, as we grow older we become increasingly disconnected from our own bodies.

As a result, we stop paying attention to the messages that our bodies send us every single day. We neglect the minor symptoms that are often an attempt to catch our attention. Symptoms like headaches, aches, lack of energy and others are a gift for you to take action. These often unconnected and unexplained symptoms are a window of opportunity to prevent future damage.

This can save you from a multitude of health problems years of decades down the line.

At the same time, symptoms are often the last straw. I have written more about this in an earlier post here.

As Jon Kabat Zinn had said,

“No one can listen to your body for you….

To grow and heal, you have to take responsibility for listening to yourself”

The stress of living with a chronic illness

Living with a chronic illness is inherently stressful.

In particular, for autoimmune conditions, symptoms like constant pain and immense fatigue can often be invisible in nature. In this manner, large parts of this disease are often “invisible”, making this disease really difficult to live with.

It also becomes really hard to make others understand what one is going through every single day. This lack of understanding and support would then aggravate the stress of living with this condition. Tests are often inconclusive, an accurate diagnosis may not be possible for many years, and symptoms are ever changing and unpredictable.

In a situation like this, we can feel as if we are at war with our bodies. There is a way to change this situation and it starts with changing the way you think about your body.

Thinking of your body in terms of “Today’s body”

The good news is that you do not need to be at “war” with your body.

You see, having an autoimmune condition doesn’t mean your body has given up on you….

Living with a chronic illness means that your body is trying its best to adapt to the environment you are asking it to live in.

If you would like to know more about HOW your body is trying to protect you, read my earlier post on this topic HERE.

One intervention that has had a major positive impact on my clients is the concept of “today’s body”. This means finding a way to stop identifying with your body as “I, me or mine”. This helps you to create some space between you and your body and allows you to accept your body as it is, today.

By not making your body your “fault” you can let go of the tendency to “fix it” for a while. 

This activity is based on this article.

By thinking in terms of “today’s body”, you may find it easier to treat your body with more tenderness and forgiveness. Appreciating what your body is doing for you is key to supporting its healing process.

You can practice taking care of your body today, just the way it is right now. Tomorrow you may feel differently, but today is what counts right now and all that matters. 

4 simple ways of dealing with stress

In my coaching programme for women with autoimmune conditions, I teach my clients how to manage their chronic stress. I teach them how to go beyond traditional stress management methods like meditation and deep breathing.

I help them prioritise self care and create a healing environment that supports their body’s healing process. This helps them cope with the stress of living with any chronic illness on a daily basis.

Given below are four ways that you can implement this from today-

  1. Do a self journaling exercise- for eg, write a thank you note to your body for the way it has taken care of you over the years
  2. Practice treating your body well for ONE day – plan out a self care routine for the entire day
  3. Make a short list of ways that you can support your body for the next one week
  4. Make an “appreciation list” for your body and write down all the attributes that you notice

The good news? There is NO one right way of doing this and you can never get it wrong!

And you certainly don’t need to wait for a diagnosis to start creating long term health and reverse your symptoms.

You can start by embracing your body for what it does for you and appreciating the amazing gift that it is. 

“AUTOIMMUNE DISEASE 101”

A carefully curated and comprehensive collection of carefully selected books, podcasts, websites, blogs, and other resources from the field of Functional Medicine with a focus on autoimmune diseases

If have been looking to get ANSWERS to questions like

-Why do I have this disease?
-Will I get any better?
-Can anyone help me? Nothing is working
-Is there any hope for me to get my life back?
-I am still waiting for a diagnosis, which direction do I need to move towards?

 then this GUIDE would a game changer for you!

“Autoimmune Disease 101” is a carefully curated and comprehensive collection of carefully selected books, podcasts, websites, blogs, and other resources from the field of Functional Medicine with a focus on autoimmune diseases.

The Functional Medicine model of care for chronic diseases seeks to answer the question “Why do you have this disease” so that you can get personalised and effective care for your unique condition.

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Health Coach, author, blogger, podcaster, self care activist

Before you get any further....
Hi, I'm Anindita!

I am a Functional Medicine certified Health Coach and AFMC practitioner helping women diagnosed with autoimmune conditions and I am passionate teaching women how to reconnect with their bodies, regain confidence in themselves and  learn how to create long term health using Functional Medicine principles

Learn more

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