Self-Care and Chronic Illness

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Today I want to share some tools for bringing joy into your life. We all need encouragement, and sometimes it can be best to seek it out for ourselves instead of waiting for it to somehow come along. I call the practice of encouraging ourselves “self-care.”

Chronic illness can be lonesome and I believe self-care can help make things more bearable. It’s something that we can do for ourselves, which increases feelings of independence. Self-care can benefit anyone, though. I’ve shared my thoughts on self-care with dozens of people. It’s something that helps me, and I naturally want others to benefit from it too. Some people are resistant to my suggestion, so I came up with an analogy to explain why it is such an important tool. Here’s what I tell them:

Self-care is like car maintenance. It isn’t always convenient, but things will break down if you don’t practice it.

Self-care looks different for everyone. It may take the form of quiet, alone time for one person. Someone else may need to call a few friends and share the events of the week. Another person may want to spend time being creative in order to recharge. There is no wrong way to practice self-care. The goal of self-care is to give your soul a chance to be encouraged and refreshed. It is an important part of being an emotionally healthy person and it encourages us to treat ourselves with the same love that we show to others.

I’d like to share some of my favorite ways to practice self-care. I recommend setting aside time for self-care on a regular basis or working it into your schedule until it becomes a habit.

  • I check out daily online readings from people who inspire me. I look at the posts by Brave Girls Club when I need a pick-me-up. Lottie Ryan’s website reminds me that I am not defined by my illness.  And I love Lottie’s weekly e-mails! I read Ann Voskamp’s A Holy Experience when I need spiritual encouragement, as well as the lovely Savannah’s entries at One Mountain at a Time.
  • Janie Hubble and Misty Rees are two of the most brave, beautiful women I know. Their hearts are made of gold, and they truly care about the people around them. They founded Rooted Souls Retreat Center earlier this year.  It’s a place that encourages creativity and restoration. I encourage you to check out their website to see the retreats and workshops they offer.  You will love your time there!
  • Some books are good for the soul. Right now, I am finishing the audiobook The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown. I feel like I get sage advice each time I listen. Anne Lamott’s writing is also encouraging and joyful. It’s written from an honest place and I appreciate the vulnerability she puts into her books.
  • Pinterest is a great place to find encouraging quotes and free printable art. I find words of truth to be one of the most powerful tools I can use to encourage myself. (If you’d like to follow my boards on Pinterest, here’s the link.)
  • My gratitude journal helps me keep perspective. I list at least five things that brought me joy and I reflect on the good things in my life.  I write in the journal every few days. Try it for a few weeks and see the difference that it make!

I hope that you will consider practicing self-care. It’s a tool that can be taken with you anywhere and it’s such an important part of living an abundant life.

Please let me know how self-care helps you in the comments section!

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