20 Tips for Living Well with Chronic Pain and Illness
13. Don’t forget to thank your caregivers.
I devote two chapters in the book to these hidden heroes.
14. Patience truly is a virtue.
There’s no escaping it: you’ll encounter difficulties and annoyances in life. Patience can help you weather these storms without exacerbating your symptoms. It’s a skill you can learn.
15. Realistically assess what you have to give up and work on letting go gracefully, so you can make room for a new way of life.
Getting stuck in old identities can be a great source of suffering and can keep you from seeing new possibilities right before your eyes. In the book, I write about how I’m trying to look upon my new life as an adventure. I hope you’ll try this too.
16. With rare exceptions, when your body says “no,” you say “no.”
Saying “no” takes practice. I know because I’m still practicing. It’s another act of self-compassion.
17. Don’t feel bad if you’re not a member of the outside workforce.
Taking care of yourself as a person with chronic pain and/or illness is work! In fact, it’s often a full-time job.
18. It’s okay to feel fed-up sometimes.
I often say it’s okay to be sick of being sick. A bad day is just that: one bad day. Tomorrow, you can start over. And if it’s a bad day too, there’s the day after. Sooner or later, the universal law of impermanence will come to your rescue.
19. Become your own unconditional ally.
With practice, this can become a lifelong habit. From the book: “If you’re quick to direct negative judgment at yourself, pause for a moment and imagine how it would feel if you spent the entire day being friendly, caring, and considerate to yourself. If you can imagine it, you can do it.”
20. Never forget that despite your health challenges, you’re still a whole person.
And don’t let anyone try to convince you otherwise.
© 2016 Toni Bernhard. Thank you for reading my work. I’m the author of three books:
How to Live Well with Chronic Pain and Illness: A Mindful Guide (2015)
How to Wake Up: A Buddhist-Inspired Guide to Navigating Joy and Sorrow (2013)
How to Be Sick: A Buddhist-Inspired Guide for the Chronically Ill and their Caregivers(2010)
All of my books are available in audio format from Amazon, audible.com, and iTunes.
Toni Bernhard, J.D., is a former law professor at the University of California, Davis. Her blog “Turning Straw Into Gold” is available here.