Dealing with a chronic illness often comes with several challenges and obstacles. However, one of the issues that doesn’t get enough attention is how difficult it can be to socialize and maintain some sense of social normalcy. Between fluctuating issues that your body has to deal with to mental hurdles that cause you to cancel plans, it’s not easy to keep up an in-person social life when you’re trying to manage an illness.
Thankfully, it’s also not impossible.
While we’re lucky to live in a time that makes it easy to connect with people online to combat loneliness, it’s not the same as interacting face-to-face. While you should absolutely take advantage of technology in your everyday communication, it’s important to connect in person with people you love, too.
With that in mind, let’s cover a few tips for socializing in person that will make it easier to put yourself out there while managing your condition.
Congratulations, you got through the hands-on baby and toddler years, with all the sleepless nights and endless diaper changes! Now that your kids are going to Kindergarten or elementary school and becoming more and more independent, you will get some freedom, time and energy back, right?
Kids between the ages of 4 and 12 are building their own lives, with school, sports and hobbies. But they still need plenty of practical help and guidance from their parents, whether that’s playing taxi, checking up on homework, packing school and gym bags or managing their social calendars with play dates, birthday parties and extracurricular activities. And that’s assuming your child is perfectly healthy and happy, otherwise your to-do list includes plenty of doctor’s visits, dental checkups, physical therapy or resilience training against bullying too.
Managing your kids’ lives can be challenging and overwhelming for any parent, but even more so if you’re living with a chronic illness like MS, diabetes or rheumatoid arthritis. Your health condition can limit your mobility, making it difficult to drop your kids off at school or take them to piano class. You probably also don’t feel like having kids over to play when you’re having a migraine attack, just like severe fatigue and chronic pain may stop you from being able to attend your child’s sports game. Not to mention that symptoms popping up suddenly messes up the best laid plans.
But somehow, your son or daughter has to get to school and swimming lessons in time, no matter how good or bad you feel. And you want your kids to have a happy childhood with play dates and fun activities, without being hindered by your illness.
How can you manage your school-aged (4+) kid’s life while managing your own health?
A lot depends on your specific condition, your family and living situation, your neighborhood and your country’s schooling system. Not all of the advice given below will suit your needs or be applicable to your situation, but hopefully you’ll find some helpful suggestions.
With that in mind, here are 10 tried-and-tested tips on parenting school-aged kids when you’re chronically ill.
Moving your body has many benefits for your health and happiness, even if you’re chronically ill. Gentle exercise strengthens your muscles and supports healthy joints, lowers your blood pressure and cholesterol for better heart health, and improves your glucose levels. As a result, regular movement can ease chronic pain, increase energy levels and mobility, and help you function better in your daily life. What’s more, exercise improves your cognitive functioning and reduces anxiety, depression and negative mood.
But getting started with exercising can be hard if climbing the stairs already leaves you breathless and in pain. Or worse, when you struggle to leave the house or you’re stuck in bed most hours of the day. Even if you do function relatively well with chronic illness, you may still have to overcome obstacles for physical activity. Maybe the commute to the gym already takes up much of your precious energy, or you get so tired from your workout that you don’t have enough spoons left for your other obligations.
And good resources for rebuilding your strength and fitness with chronic illness can also be hard to find. Most (online) exercise programs start at a level that’s already challenging and taxing for many ‘spoonies’. For example, ‘From couch to 5K’ schedules sound accessible, but not if simply getting out of the door for a daily walk is a goal in itself.
When you struggle with limited energy, mobility and pain, how can you start exercising without increasing your symptoms and limitations?
There’s so much emphasis on losing weight, that it can be hard to understand why gaining back weight after illness could be a problem. After all, you just have an extra serve of food at dinner or indulge on pizza with wine and you’re back on your ideal weight, right?
Unfortunately, that’s not the case for everybody. Some diseases, medications and treatments make it difficult to reach a healthy weight, and genetics play a role too. What’s more, a diet of French fries, ice cream and soda sounds tasty, but these foods can seriously upset your stomach or worsening your existing symptoms by increasing the overall inflammation in your body. Not exactly what you want when you’re already chronically ill.
This blog post contains some affiliate links to products you may find helpful, at no extra costs to you. All opinions are my own.
We love watching movies and reading novels, but do you ever stop to think about the stories you tell yourself?
Most of us don’t even notice it, but we are the stories we tell ourselves over and over again. Our identity, our beliefs about others and the world, they aren’t objective truths – they’re constructed in our own minds.
Since the dawn of time, people have been creating and telling stories to make sense of the world. From cave drawings and Greek mythology to fairytales, stories have allowed humans to share and learn information in a memorable way. Stories also help us to empathize with others by seeing the world from different perspectives, and they give us a feeling of control in a random world.
Modern science confirms that our brains are wired for narrative. The human brain loves to impose structure on experiences and it’s great at detecting patterns, like the beginning, ending and plot of a story. And once a story grabs our attention, the evolutionary old parts of our brain start to simulate the emotions the characters must be feeling. No wonder that stories play such an important role in shaping our identity and our life story.
You see, your life is not the sum total of a series of facts stringed together – it’s your lived experience of the events that happened in your life, and the meaning you gave to them. For example, when you make a stupid mistake in front of your friends, you could either laugh about it and recount other foolish things you’ve all done, or feel so ashamed that the voice in your head starts whispering, ‘see, you always mess up, everyone thinks you’re dumb’. In any case, it’s not a neutral incident, and what you tell yourself impacts future thoughts, beliefs and actions.
That’s why narrative psychology focuses on unraveling what kind of stories you tell yourself and how that affects you, plus what you can do to choose more helpful narratives.
Strictly Necessary Cookies
Strictly Necessary Cookie should be enabled at all times so that we can save your preferences for cookie settings.
If you disable this cookie, we will not be able to save your preferences. This means that every time you visit this website you will need to enable or disable cookies again.