The Ultimate Guide to Getting Things Done with Chronic Illness | The Health Sessions

The Ultimate Guide to Getting Things Done with Chronic Illness

“You never know how strong you are until being strong is your only choice.” – Bob Marley

I had big dreams for 2018. After focusing mostly on my family last year, now was the time to grow this website, write another book and work on some important personal goals. Life, however, had other plans.

The cold and flu season has hit our home hard this winter. It’s never fun having to take care of sick kids and spouses, especially not for weeks on end. But add a history of chronic illness, serious sleep deprivation and other important responsibilities to the mix, and you have the recipe for a body crash in the making.

These past two months reminded me again how much I (have to) rely on energy-conserving strategies to get things done no matter how good or bad I feel. After all, there are only so much tasks you can drop, delegate or defer.

I’ve written a lot over the years about ‘hacks’ that make life with chronic illness a little easier, from planning and pacing to ‘minimalism with a backup plan’, stress-free meal planning and sheet pan dinners.

But today I’d love to hear from you.

What is your best energy-saving life hack for getting things done with chronic illness? Which tricks do you use to do your job, run a household, raise a family, have a social life and/or pursue your passions despite of the pain, fatigue and symptoms you’re experiencing?

Help me make an ultimate guide of how to get things done with chronic illness by adding your tip(s) to the list!

Read more >The Ultimate Guide to Getting Things Done with Chronic Illness

12 Heartwarming Quotes to Encourage Compassion for Others and Yourself | The Health Sessions

12 Heartwarming Quotes to Encourage Compassion for Others and Yourself

Compassion is a admirable trait that forms the heart of our society, religions and humanistic views. Our minds and bodies seem to be wired to care. When you see somebody else suffer, your brain reacts to their pain as if it was your own. Not only do you instinctively empathize with others, the part of your brain that wants to alleviate their distress also lights up. Studies show that when you feel compassion, your heart rate slows down and the bonding hormone oxytocin is released.

Tuning into other people’s feelings in a kind manner doesn’t just help them – it makes you feel good too. Feeling compassion can improve your relationships, boost your resilience and give you a more optimistic outlook on life – all factors that are linked to a happier, healthier you.

And the good news is, you don’t have to become the next Mother Theresa or Gandhi to cultivate compassion. Simple things like looking for similarities between yourself and others or really listening to what someone’s saying also encourages feelings of compassion.

In the Dutch language, there’s an important distinction between ‘medelijden’ (compassion or pity; literal translation: co-suffering) and ‘medeleven’ (sympathy; literally: co-living). It’s a good thing when you genuinely want to understand what somebody’s going through and taking action to help them, but that doesn’t mean you should take on their suffering.

Because compassion is about being kind to yourself too. True self-compassion is not the same as a narcissistic self-love, being easy on yourself or making excuses. It’s about paying attention to your needs and taking a caring approach, instead of a self-critical one.

Have a look at these 12 heartwarming quotes to encourage compassion for others and yourself. 

Read more >12 Heartwarming Quotes to Encourage Compassion for Others and Yourself

Why Pacing Beats Push-and-Crash (and How to Best Manage Your Energy) | The Health Sessions

Why Pacing Beats Push-and-Crash Cycles (And How You Can Best Manage Your Energy)

If you’ve been living with a chronic illness for a while, you’ve probably heard of the Spoon Theory by Christine Miserandino. For someone who’s seriously sick, each day starts with a limited amount of “spoons” of energy. They carefully have to decided how you can best spend each one, knowing that even mondain tasks like taking a shower or making lunch costs you precious spoons.

The Spoon Theory is a helpful analogy of what it’s truly like to live with chronic illness or disability. But how does it work in reality? How do you decide how to spend your spoons? What do you do when you have no spoons left but still half a day ahead of you?

In my experience, there are two broad strategies: pacing and push-and-crash. 

I used to be the queen of push-and-crash cycles. At the time, it really was the only way to get things done: resting up and preparing before an event – going to school, necessary shopping trips, hanging out with family and friends – putting every last drop of effort into getting to and through the event and then… crash. Hard. It meant my symptoms would exacerbate and I couldn’t do much else but rest the next day(s) to recover from that activity.

Read more >Why Pacing Beats Push-and-Crash Cycles (And How You Can Best Manage Your Energy)

7 Best Tips To Use Massage Therapy As A Source Of Injury Prevention | The Health Sessions

7 Best Tips to Use Massage Therapy as a Source of Injury Prevention

This is a guest post by Stacey Connor from Foot Massager Advisor

Massage therapy has long been seen as an effective means to assist people who were suffering from some kind of injury, no matter what kind of injury they have. Even those who have had broken bones find that massage therapy can be beneficial in assisting them so that they can have stronger more durable muscles that are able to assist in the strengthening of the bone.

It is clear that massage therapy can have tremendous benefits for those who have already suffered an injury. But you may be unaware of the fact that it can be as equally helpful in preventing injuries from occurring at all. In fact, even if you are a fitness geek, you may find that by visiting a massage therapist on a regular basis you may prevent injuries from ever having a chance to occur.

Here are seven tips you should know about using massage therapy as a source of injury prevention.

Read more >7 Best Tips to Use Massage Therapy as a Source of Injury Prevention

How You Can Still Pursue Your Goals and Dreams When You're Chronically Ill | The Health Sessions

How You Can Still Pursue Your Goals and Dreams When You’re Chronically Ill

“A dream is a wish your heart makes.” – Walt Disney

Remember when you were young, you’d fantasize about all the things you would do when you were grown up: becoming a doctor or a rockstar, traveling the world, getting married and having kids.

Some of those dreams may be shattered when you get diagnosed with chronic illness.

Suddenly, the life you’d envisioned for yourself is gone. Sometimes there’s little chance of your dreams ever becoming reality. I mean, how can you finish your studies, work a demanding job or raise a family when just getting through the day is a huge challenge?

It’s a heartbreaking feeling to have your deepest desires go unmet. When there’s a gap between what you’d do if only your body would cooperate and what you can actually do, you may experience an inner conflict between accepting your new reality and still trying to shoot for the moon.

Because even the sickest of us still have goals and dreams we wish to fulfill. Living means more than simply surviving. According to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, when our basic needs like food, shelter and safety are met, we all long to belong and be loved, to cultivate self-esteem and self-respect, and finally to reach self-actualisation. We want to give meaning to our lives, even in the most harrowing circumstances.

But when you’re chronically ill and struggle to do the simplest things, pursuing your dreams and achieving your goals is not as easy as “you can do anything as long as you want it badly enough“. Of course determination, hard work and commitment are key, and there are plenty of stories out there of people accomplishing greatness despite their limitations. But sometimes all the persistence in the world just isn’t enough – at least not right now.

Despite my reservations about some motivational slogans, I’m a fierce believer in hope and going after your dreams. Whether you want to finish your studies, find a loving partner or pursue your passions, here are some realistic ideas to help you set and reach new goals when you have a chronic illness.

Read more >How You Can Still Pursue Your Goals and Dreams When You’re Chronically Ill