Chronic illness can take so much away from your life. It’s difficult to do certain things because we never know how we’re going to feel until that day. It’s hard to keep up with housework, a job, (whether it’s inside or outside the home), and parenting, etc . It’s so important to do things that nourish our soul. Learning to practice spiritual self-care while living with a chronic illness doesn’t have to be difficult. It shouldn’t have to take much money, time, or effort. I find it helpful to have a few go to activities I can easily do when I’m having a difficult day. Here are some things that help me live to the fullest while living with a chronic illness. I hope you find some of them helpful as well.
Nature: Nature has always given me a sense of peace. I have found ways to enjoy it even if I can’t get outside or take a long walk. I love experiencing nature with all of my five senses. I have a beautiful view from my kitchen and bedroom window where I can see mountains and wildflowers. I can hear birds singing. It helps me feel like I am still a part of the outside world even when I can’t be outside.
I also like sitting on my deck when weather allows. I have a lounge chair and a wooden swing that my grandfather made many years ago. The back and forth motion of the swing helps me to relax. I also like to lie down on my back and look at the clouds and bright blue sky. Feeling connected to nature helps me forget about my aches and pains for a little while.
Every summer we go to the Jersey shore. I love feeling the sand in between my toes. I sink my beach chair into the wet sand at the tide’s edge. Sometimes I read and other times I just sit back with my eyes closed and feel the warm sun on my face. My parents invited me to Marco Island, Florida for the past two years in a row. What a beautiful place! I saw sunsets that took my breath away! I wanted a way to bring my vacation home with me so I collected shells and sand and put them in plastic Ziplock bags. When I got home I put together a display. When I want to remember the beach all I have to do is look at my display and memories of the beach come flooding back.
Faith: My faith has been important to me since I was a teenager. I became ill just a few years later, at the age of twenty-three. I know that my illness has strengthened my faith and helped me to see what is truly important. When you’re healthy I think it’s easier to take certain things for granted. I was at a place where I knew I needed God more than ever. I didn’t have a job or a whirlwind of activity to give me an identity and sense of worth. I have come to realize that my worth and identity come from God.
Journaling: I have kept a journal since the fourth grade. As the years have gone by I have journaled less, but recently I’ve increased my writing. Writing down my thoughts and feelings help me process things easier. I also have a prayer journal that I try to write in daily. It helps me keep my thoughts focused when praying. I have a basket near my bed filled with inspirational books and my journals.
I am so glad that I have these spiritual practices to help me cope in a positive way.
What types of things help you care for your spirit while living with a chronic illness?