How You Can Embrace Self-Compassion with a Chronic Illness

  • By Miles Oliver
  • 10 April 2023
  • 4 minute read
How You Can Embrace Self-Compassion With a Chronic Illness | The Health Sessions

This article is written by Miles Oliver. 

When we have a chronic illness, it’s easy to be down on ourselves and blame the world for our ailments. However, while that may fill you with temporary relief, the negativity is only causing additional harm. Instead, try to embrace self-compassion and love yourself. Self-compassion is a positive self-view and a way of reminding yourself that you are a special person who deserves happiness.

What we’re saying is even if you have a chronic condition, you can still live a positive life, find happiness, and enjoy yourself. Start with these tips.

The Basics of Self-Compassion

It is all too normal to learn that you have a chronic illness, feel upset and be hard on yourself. It is easy to run “If only I would have…,”scenarios through your mind or even fault yourself for your illness. However, if you don’t try to find your inner happiness, then this negative outlook can only exacerbate your issues.

Consider the fact that people who practice self-compassion are healthier overall. That’s because positivity puts your body into a parasympathetic state, which helps to reduce your heart rate, blood pressure, and stress hormones. On top of that, parasympathetic activity can improve the functioning of your immune system, which can protect against other health issues. Self-compassion is key to your happiness.

A good starting point of achieving self-compassion is to begin each morning with a positive affirmation. A mantra such as “I am brave” or “I am capable” can boost your confidence and give you the push you need to take on the day. If you ever begin to doubt yourself during the day or feel like your illness is getting the best of you, then you can also try a self-kindness mantra, like, “I’m only human,” “nobody’s perfect,” or “all will be well,” which can help you to recenter, push through some of that pain, and believe in yourself again.

How You Can Embrace Self-Compassion With a Chronic Illness | The Health Sessions
Photo by Polina Kovaleva via

How to Show Self-Compassion

There are various tactics you can use to show self-compassion throughout the day. One great tactic to try, especially when you are stuck in a stage of grief, is to practice meditation. Search online for smartphone apps that can lead you on a guided meditation that can last from a few minutes to over an hour. These helpful practices can calm your nerves and help you focus on your inner beauty. If you’re not quite ready for yoga, at least take a few deep breaths when you’re feeling stressed.

There are also mental exercises you can try when you’re upset, including thinking about how you would treat a friendin the same situation. How would you respond if they came to you while struggling with their illness? Would you tell them to blame themselves and talk to them in a harsh tone? Or would you be kind to them, tell them to be strong, and show compassion? Now, direct those same comments to yourself.

Sometimes you just need to relax. There are tactics that we all use to calm down when we are feeling worked up. Relaxation often works as a built-in tranquilizer that helps to ease your tension. Find a way to thank your body for the good times via some walking meditation, a cup of tea, a warm bath or gentle yoga. It also helps to unplug your devices for a while so you can focus on yourself and bring out those positive thoughts.

How You Can Embrace Self-Compassion With a Chronic Illness | The Health Sessions
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Find Ways to Cultivate Happiness

It’s also important to remember that you’re allowed to treat yourself well and enjoy the good things in life. You may just need to make some modifications. For instance, many people enjoy dessert and sweets, and that doesn’t have to end just because you have a chronic illness like diabetes. You can still have a delicious snack without the sugar by instead adding a safe sweetener that won’t raise your blood sugar.

You can also feel better both mentally and physically by spending time at the park. A stroll down a path through a plush forest can reduce stress, boost your immune system, and improve your blood pressure and heart health, which is important if you have a chronic illness.

Or if you love reading your favorite books and journaling your thoughts, but your vision is lacking, you can still enjoy your hobby by investing in dependable reader sunglasses. There are many quality brands out on the market that allow you to read with ease.

While there is a lot of fun to being bad, it’s important to not go overboard. Pace yourself and create a not-now list. Choose an activity or two to do every day, and don’t overdo it, especially if you need to conserve your energy.

By showing self-compassion, you can feel better about yourself and your situation, even if you have a chronic illness. Consider the tips discussed here, and you can live a happier life

For more inspiration, check out these 12 heartwarming quotes to encourage compassion for others *and* yourself. 

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