Finding Beauty in the Midst of Fibromyalgia: Charis on Living Intentionally with Chronic Illness | The Health Sessions

Finding Beauty in the Midst of Fibromyalgia: An Interview with ‘Chronically’ Charis

What’s it really like to live with chronic health problems every day? How do you deal with the physical symptoms, emotional turmoil and practical problems? In this interview series, real life ‘spoonies’ share their experiences and tips.

Charis is a twenty-something business management student from Singapore. On Chronically Charis, she chronicles her journey with Fibromyalgia and shares how to live intentionally with chronic illness. 

Tell us a little about yourself.

Hi my name is Charis! I’m from sunny Singapore and I run the blog www.chronicallycharis.com where I write about my journey with Fibromyalgia. I’m in my early twenties and I’m currently a full-time student in business management. I love food, makeup, yoga, and travel and when I’m not resting in bed you’ll find me discovering delicious(and gluten-free) food about town 🙂 If you want to follow my misadventures with chronic illness, do check out my blog and follow me on Instagram at @chronicallycharis.

When did you first get sick?

I’ve been sick pretty much half my life now! It’s scary to say it out loud but honestly, it hasn’t been that bad. I first started feeling really tired and getting fevers and aches all the time when I was about 14/15 but my doctors just thought it was “stress” or “growing pains”. As I grew older, the symptoms started to get worse and I developed a lot of stomach problems, even necessitating a hospitalization. Much later, I discovered that my stomach problems were actually gluten and lactose intolerances, which many people with fibromyalgia have. After many trips to see specialists, a rheumatologist finally diagnosed me with fibromyalgia. It’s a diagnosis of omission (I tested negative of Rheumatoid Arthritis and Lupus which quite a few doctors suspected my disease to be at first) but to be perfectly frank, it was a huge relief to know that my disease had a name instead of thinking it was all inside my head!

Read more >Finding Beauty in the Midst of Fibromyalgia: An Interview with ‘Chronically’ Charis



Shared Meals: 11 Family-Style Platters for Every Time of Day | The Health Sessions

Shared Meals: 11 Family-Style Platters for Every Time of Day

Have you been drooling over those pretty pictures of delicious food platters on Instagram and Pinterest?

There’s something ultimately relaxed about shared dining. I mean, what’s not to love about gathering around a beautiful board filled with foods for every flavour? That’s what makes shared meals perfect for festive occasions, from passing a vibrant crudité platter on parties to hosting a brunch.

If you have picky eaters, family-style meals also take the pressure off cooking something everyone will eat by serving separate components. When you put bowls with different foods on the table, everyone can create their own dinner.

Sharing a meal isn’t limited to snacks and dinnertime either. From breakfast boards to dessert platters, take a look at these 11 shared meals you can enjoy any time of day.

Read more >Shared Meals: 11 Family-Style Platters for Every Time of Day



7 Ways to Make New Friends When You're Chronically Ill | The Health Sessions

7 Ways to Make New Friends When You’re Chronically Ill

Unlike those playground years, it’s a lot more challenging to make new friends as an adult. Everyone’s busy with work, travel or family, so most of us spend our precious time with the people we already know and love.

When you’re a grownup with a chronic illness, forming and maintaining friendships becomes even more difficult. How and where do you meet interesting people when don’t have the energy to go out after work, or worse, when you can barely leave your home?

Even if you’re able to socialize, you probably face some obstacles. Maybe your illness forces you to open up about personal things early on, or you’d love to hang out but struggle to share your limitations without scaring someone off. It might also be hard for relative strangers to understand how your chronic illness affects your everyday life.

Does that mean it’s impossible to make new friends when you’re chronically ill? Of course not – just like everything else related to health problems, it’s only more challenging.

Take a look at 7 ideas how you can still meet new people and grow supportive friendships despite chronic illness. 

Read more >7 Ways to Make New Friends When You’re Chronically Ill



Art Therapy: 44 Creative Ideas to Support Your Health and Happiness | The Health Sessions

Art Therapy: 44 Creative Ideas to Support Your Health and Happiness

We’ve all experienced how singing along to your favorite tunes or trusting your thoughts to your diary can make you feel better. But did you know that regularly engaging in creative activities actually boosts your happiness and health?

Art therapy is a kind of therapy that uses creative self-expression in the form of painting, drawing or sculpting to support the diagnosis and treatment of psychological problems. Other creative activities like music, dancing and writing are also praised for their health benefits.

Studies show that art therapy not only provides distraction, but also relieves stress and improves your mental health. Because visual art transcends language, it helps people express emotions that are hard to put into words. Even celebrated artists like Frida Kahlo and Van Gogh probably turned to painting as an emotional outlet, to help them cope with disability and mental illness. What’s more, being creative can evoke positive emotions like joy, awe and inspiration – all of which help build your resilience.

Art in all its forms can even promote your physical health. Recent research reveal that art therapy reduces pain when offered during acute hospitalizations. Listening to your favorite music also results into requiring less pain medication after surgery and boosts your brain health. Finally, dance training turns out to be a helpful tool in rehabilitation settings, to improve the balance and gait of patients with reduced mobility.

Pretty impressive, right? So how can you apply art therapy in your own life to boost your health and happiness?

First of all, you should know that art therapy has less to do with being ‘artistic’ than you might think. It’s about expressing yourself in a creative way, for your own pleasure and self-development. You don’t need special skills or difficult techniques. So silence your inner critic and perfectionist tendencies and take a look at these 44 creative ideas to get started.

Read more >Art Therapy: 44 Creative Ideas to Support Your Health and Happiness