It can be really difficult to maintain a positive mindset when dealing with a chronic or mental illness. It is easy for all the uncertainty, discomfort, and struggle to become overwhelming to the point of depression…even hopelessness. But on my journey with chronic illness and anxiety I have discovered five things that I can do to help me stay positive and hopeful.
- Staying inspired.
When I try to keep my eyes and ears open, I notice that there are acts of kindness and courage happening all around me. Sure, there are plenty of unpleasant, unkind people in the world, but I actively try to stay inspired by my fellow human beings. I try to see the good in others. There are so many people who are everyday heroes – people with generous, compassionate hearts who try to ease the suffering of others, people whose acts of selfless bravery and sacrifice make a difference in our world, people who try to bring about positive change and innovation. I am incredibly inspired by anyone who has every right to feel bitter and defeated by their struggles, but who instead chooses to be a source of positivity and light for others. It is the people who share their stories of overcoming who help me get in touch with my own inner warrior.
- Being a global citizen.
It’s true, our world can be quite a frightening place at times. Every time I turn on the news, I hear about another shooting or terrorist attack or unfortunate event. It would be so simple to just shut all of it out. We have our own issues to deal with, right? But I’ve found that staying informed about what is happening across the world helps me keep my own life and struggles in perspective. Sometimes, it can be overwhelming. Bad things happen to good people every day. But I feel like I have a duty to be cognizant of the experiences of others. It’s good to get outside of my own bubble. And not all news is bad. There are some pretty incredible people in the world with stories worth hearing.
- Living with gratitude.
Trying to live with a grateful heart has transformed the way I see the world and live my life. Every moment that I am not experiencing discomfort or anxiety, I feel immensely grateful. Every time I get to laugh with my family or eat a good meal or snuggle with my dogs, my heart is thankful. Trying to be appreciative of and focus on the goodness in even the simplest of things helps keep me in a positive mindset. I know that no matter what happens to me, no matter what struggles I may face in the future, that there will always be things in my life worth being grateful for.
- Communing with nature.
One of the quickest, most effective ways I’ve found to raise my spirits is to spend time in nature or with animals. This can be as simple as walking in the woods on a sunny day, sitting on a bench by a body of water, playing with pets, or just listening to the multitude of sounds outside. When I’m outside, I try to focus on all the beauty and complexities of the world around me. Breathing in fresh air and hearing the sound of wind howling through trees helps me feel alive and invigorated. I close my eyes and I truly feel like I am part of the Universe. Nature is powerful and I think it can be hugely beneficial for anyone suffering.
- Reaching out to others.
One of the most positive things I’ve done on my journey with chronic illness has been reaching out to others who are in similar situations. I’ve been so fortunate to communicate with strong, kind people who understand exactly what I am going through, exactly what I am feeling. Having people to talk to when things are at their worst, who will never judge me is a great source of comfort. It is so easy to feel isolated, alone, and misunderstood if your life experiences diverge from the norm. But having a network of support – whether you communicate electronically or in person – really can make a world of difference. It definitely has for me.
People utilize different coping strategies to deal with their lives. But doing everything I can to stay positive is important to me. It’s something I try to fight for and will continue to every day of my life.