How to Learn to Accept Your Chronic Illness | The Health Sessions

How to Learn to Accept Your Chronic Illness

A year ago I wrote a blog post about why acceptance is not the same as giving up. Facing today’s reality doesn’t mean you give up hope for tomorrow. It just means you make the best of the given situation in this moment, instead of trying to change something that cannot be changed right now.

But the question remains: how do you start accepting that you’re chronically ill and may never get fully better again? How do you wrap your mind around the fact that your body, your life, your future are forever changed?

It’s a cliche, but acceptance takes time. It’s a gradual process that has its ups and downs. Emotions may stir up (again) when you enter a new phase in life or a new stage of your illness.

In his bestselling book, The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success, Deepak Chopra writes:

‘Acceptance simply means that you make a commitment: “Today I will accept people, situations, circumstances, and events as they occur.” (…) You can wish for things in the future to be different, but in this moment you have to accept things as they are.(…) Having accepted this circumstance, this event, this problem, responsibility then means the ability to have a creative response to the situation as it is now.’

Accepting chronic illness goes hand in hand with coping; learning how to deal with negative thoughts and feelings. It’s also about partly letting go of the person you thought you were and the life you had envisioned, and make the best of the new reality you’re handed.

How do you do that? I don’t have all the answers, but here are some psychological strategies to help you.

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Digital Diet: The Doable Alternative to a Digital Detox | The Health Sessions

The Digital Diet: A Doable Alternative to a Digital Detox

“You have 263 unread messages.”

Did you come back from your Summer break only to find yourself flooded with work mail?

Smartphone stress is real. Countless of studies have been published about the downsides of the latest technology –  from stress and sleeping problems to anxiety, depression and disturbed body image.

When you’re feeling overwhelmed with email or keeping up with social media, the common advice is to consider a digital detox – taking a (radical) break from checking Instagram, WhatsApp and news feeds. Hey, I dedicated a blog post to it myself.

But recently I read something interesting in the Dutch Psychologie Magazine. Do we really need to force ourselves offline to find peace or is there a way to get the benefits from smartphones whilst avoiding the pitfalls?

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Two Birds, One Stone: 4 Healthy Habits with Multiple Benefits | The Health Sessions

Two Birds, One Stone: 4 Healthy Habits with Multiple Benefits

Healthy living can feel like a lot of work, especially when you start your wellness journey with full enthusiasm, trying to add every advice to your health repertoire: moving your body regularly, upgrading your food pattern, quitting bad habits like smoking or drinking, adopting natural wellness rituals and a daily meditation practice.

How do you find the time and energy to fit that all into your already busy schedule?

Well, partly it’s a matter of setting priorities of course. We’re all guilty of mindlessly browsing the net, binge-watching series and being busy for busy’s sake. If that’s the case, you could try things like the Power Hour Method to get a healthy head start on your day. But if you lack the necessary ‘spoons’ to do so – or you have little ones running around who make a dedicated morning routine impossible – you can also add multifunctional healthy habits to your day.

A multifunctional habit is a helpful behaviour that serves more than one purpose. In other words, you get multiple health benefits from performing one single routine. 

For example, by doing your groceries on foot, you combine a necessary chore with a brisk walk, fresh air and hopefully some sunshine. Plus, you can’t thoughtlessly throw ‘great discount offers’ of not-so-healthy food items in your shopping cart, because you’ll have to be able to carry everything home eventually.

So which multifunctional habits could help you lead a healthier lifestyle in an effortless way? 

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Relaxing from Head to Toe: The Mindful Body Scan

Relaxing from Head to Toe: The Mindful Body Scan | The Health Sessions

 

This post is an excerpt from my upcoming e-book “How to Create Your Own Action Plan for Recovery“. If you want to stay updated on the release of the book, sign up for weekly newsletters from The Health Sessions here

 

All day long, your senses are bombarded with information – sights, sounds, smells. Your brain is constantly busy selecting and interpreting these stimuli, storing what’s important into your long – term memory.

Turning your attention inwards instead of to the world around you has several benefits for your health.

Brain studies suggest that observing what’s happening inside of you – your thoughts, emotions and physical sensations – taps into a different part of your brain than watching the outside world does. Instead of solely relying upon the frontal lobes of the neocortex, focusing on your feelings also activates evolutionary older parts of your brain that are associated with emotional reactions and the integration of physical experiences. It’s that bypass of the thinking and judging parts of your brain that makes mindfulness such an effective method to find your calm when you can’t seem to stop your racing thoughts.

Learning to tune into your body also allows you to pick up signals of stress, pain and exertion before these symptoms become (too) serious.

A mindful body scan is a powerful way to get in touch with your body and really notice what you’re sensing, without judging or trying to change what’s happening within. At first glance, a body scan might seem like you’re just lying down doing nothing. But it involves a little more than that. Because while your body is resting, your mind goes on a guided tour from your toes to your head, pausing at each part and paying attention to what you’re feeling.

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How to Stop Ruminating: Thinking Things Through, Distraction or Mindfulness?

How to Stop Overthinking: Rumination, Distraction & Mindfulness | The Health Sessions

 

“I don’t understand why this is happening to me.”

“God, I’m such a loser for blowing that presentation. What must my colleagues think of me?”

“It’s not fair! Why did he do that to me?”

 

We’ve all been there. In your mind, you keep going over that argument with your friend or the stupid mistake you made, thinking about what you should have done differently.

You try to make sense of the confusing or upsetting situation by meticulously thinking it through. And normally, that kind of reflection can give you new insights, help you learn and improve, so it won’t happen a second time. But when rehashing the negative experience takes over your thoughts, like a broken record that plays the same lyrics again and again, it becomes a serious risk for your health and happiness.

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