Especially when we are physically ill or disabled, well-being is important. Amidst chronic illness, we sometimes think well-being is beyond us. It’s not. Being cured or being what the dominant culture thinks of as “healthy” may not be achievable, but we can still work to maximize our physical and mental health.

Separating mental from physical health is artificial. They are intimately connected. A diagnosis may result in hopelessness and depression. Such thoughts release hormones and increase heart rate and blood pressure. When that happens chronically, it can have a significant effect on our health.

Return to the basics:

Minimize stress:

When I was first diagnosed, this felt like crazy advice. I had a life-changing, frightening diagnosis. I was stressed! How could I possibly minimize that?

I have spent years learning how to relax and befriend my mind. Taking one day at a time helps. For a couple of years, I read the Just For Today list every day. I have it memorized and it supports me through each day. It’s important, though, not to use such a list as a tool toward shame. It’s meant to inspire, not punish. I also meditate and write in my journal days. Stress relief is a side effect of both practices.

Get enough sleep

The amount of sleep you need each night depends on who you are, but most healthy adults need between 7-9 hours each night. If you have trouble sleeping, it can help to make adjustments in your routine and environment.

Eat healthy foods

Chances are, you know what you need to do: more fruits and vegetables, less fat, sugar, and carbs. If you are not sure, or you need inspiration, take a look at this webpage.

See your doctor and/or healthcare professional

See your doctor and negotiate a treatment plan. I like to think of the doctor-patient relationship as a partnership. Each doctor gives me information about illnesses and symptoms and makes recommendations. I decide what’s next.

Western medicine doesn’t have all the answers. Consider complementary healthcare providers, look into your options and give promising treatments a try. You decide what works best for you..

Do what makes your heart sing

When I am doing what brings me joy, I feel better both mentally and physically. Noticing moments of delight and spending time doing what I love increases my well-being.

Connect with others

Loneliness is rampant and it degrades both mental and physical health. Find ways to be with other people who support your well-being.

Above all, be kind to yourself. Your illness is not your fault. Neither is having your illness get worse or remain uncured illness can be your teacher, guiding you to a life of deep meaning and surprising love…