PUBLISHED IN BRAINZ MAGAZINE
Living with a chronic illness presents many challenges and a rollercoaster of emotions. The physical, emotional, and spiritual distress can become overwhelming. The bad days seem to be on autorepeat, the mind is oversaturated with anxiety, and before we realize it, the joy of life is depleted.
The way we respond and simulate our experiences in these unprecedented situations can help us find the joy of life again. We can live and thrive joyfully with a chronic illness by just shifting our thoughts, beliefs, and attitudes. Anything becomes achievable once you gain perspective, reframe your thinking and have a desire for change. I’m sharing 5 key areas of focus that helped me to reclaim my joy, despite living with Parkinson’s Disease.
To begin the healing process, we must acknowledge those feelings associated with the disease. To fully step into embracing acceptance and acknowledgment, we must first find the middle ground to accept this is part of the journey. Thoughts are a dynamic part of everyone's journey; you don't have to bury these feelings, yet allow yourself to accept the experience of each emotion. Go through each of the emotions that come up such as anger, frustration, grief, sadness, or disgust. Recognize each mental state and what it represents for you. Let your mind and body become aware. This mental sweeping of your internal self may be repeated often. Once you've found peace with embracing the challenge, you can now focus on changing the outcome.
To wake up each day to a new life filled with opportunities and beauty is undoubtedly something to be thankful for. As we open our hearts to gratitude and allow the moments around us to give us pleasure and contentment, the joy slowly begins to reunite with our hearts. Gratitude is appreciated joy, the simplicity of a divine experience or moment that we can replace with difficulty or pain. Gratitude boosts our self-awareness, releases stress, and opens us to the actively positive flow. Cultivate gratitude with intention by allowing yourself to visualize and manifest every moment and milestone as a treasured gem that brings a smile to your face and releases joy.
"Be thankful for what you have. You'll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don't have, you will never, ever have enough." — Oprah Winfrey
The mind often creates barriers to self-acceptance and love once we step out of our comfort zone. The disease we are dealing with may have us latching on to limiting beliefs about ourselves, and the experiences around us. Recognize your self-worth and desire to be happy and joyful. Connect with your inner consciousness by giving yourself kindness, love, and compassion. A few minutes of meditation and solitude to embrace the awakening of your worth and value will help you to refocus on reclaiming the joy. Give yourself creativity and laughter by indulging in hobbies or experiences that encourage peace and happiness. Especially when dealing with a chronic illness, extra attention to our mind, body, and spirit allows us to recognize how important we are. Give yourself grace and indulge in the simplest of moments. Through the darkest of moments and deepest of adversities, once we love ourselves unconditionally, without judgment and guilt, the joys of life will be in every moment we capture.
A disease may make us think we can no longer do the same things we loved doing before, but the truth is, we can continue to find enjoyment in cultivating our creative flow. Remove the limiting beliefs, self-doubt, and self-judgment.
Sylvia Plath said,
"The worse enemy of creativity is self-doubt."
Follow your passion and intuition. Taking the time to be creative throughout your day will enhance your emotional, physical and spiritual attention to regaining balance. To rejoice in your creative flow, choose activities that have profound pleasure and dedicate time to doing them. Draw, dance, write; whatever puts you in your flow. Bring your awareness to your experience at that moment and notice all the joy and happiness. Allow yourself at least a few minutes a day to practice this.
Human connection and interaction are powerful tools to unleash unlimited happiness. When we make a conscious effort to focus on building and maintaining relationships with others, including family and friends, we will notice the mental shifts that occur. Use every opportunity to enjoy the moments with loved ones and continue cultivating those relationships. Call a friend for his/her birthday, send a greeting card to your aunt or uncle, or stop in and say hello to your neighbor. Be heartfelt in your intentions to build relationships. Celebrate life with the people around you and find a supportive group where you can be honest and humble. The human touch is dynamic and healing; when you allow yourself to be immersed in building your network of support.
The joys of life are attainable, despite living with a chronic illness. Treasure the little things, celebrate the small wins, and embrace the journey. The joys of life aren't always seen by the human eye yet felt by the human heart. Adapting to life with a chronic illness is never easy but doing it with a smile and joy can certainly make the journey easier.