“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.
Have you ever heard of the Happiness Ratio? Psychologist Barbara Fredrickson found that we need 3 positive emotions for every negative 1 to stay emotionally healthy. That’s easier said than done when you’re chronically ill and your days are filled with painful symptoms, doctor’s visits and social isolation.
Fortunately, there are two things you can do to boost your mood: do more things you enjoy or make the things you do more enjoyable. How? By purposely sprinkling simple pleasures throughout your day.
As it happens, happiness research also suggests that when it comes to happiness, frequency beats intensity. In other words: you don’t have to tick audacious goals off your bucket list in order to feel good; savoring tiny moments of bliss will do.
To do that, you could make a list of 31 little things that make you happy and actively try to do one of those simple pleasures every day. Here are some ideas to get you started:
Love can be complicated under the easiest circumstances — let alone when chronic illness comes into play.
When “in sickness and in health” becomes your daily reality instead of a promise you once made, it can put a serious strain on your relationship. And if you’re single, dating and finding a loving partner might feel totally undoable if you’re dealing with debilitating symptoms, unpredictable flare-ups and an uncertain future.
This article from The Atlantic eloquently describes the kind of dilemmas and obstacles chronically ill people face in their love life. Because, how do you even meet a potential partner when you’re housebound and struggling to do the simplest things? When do you tell your date about your health issues, fearing you might scare them off? How do you adjust to a new way of life when you or your spouse become severely ill with little chance of a full recovery?
Love in times of chronic illness requires open communication, understanding and a willingness to make it work from both parties. And even then it can be challenging. But with the right partner, love can also carry you through the toughest times.
So how can you keep love alive in the midst of hospital visits, a rollercoaster of emotions and all kinds of practical problems?I don’t have all the answers, but this is what I know:
The holiday season is the perfect time for reflection, getting inspired for the new year and recharging your batteries by catching up on some reading. Here’s a collection of articles to help you stay healthy over Christmas, reduce holiday stress and celebrate in style no matter your physical condition.
“There are certain emotions in your body that not even your best friend can sympathize with,
but you will find the right film or the right book, and it will understand you.”
— Björk, Icelandic singer – songwriter.
Stories are immensely powerful.
They move us, inspire us and expose us to exciting new ideas. They let us explore the world from the comfort of our armchairs and take us on a journey inwards to uncover our deepest feelings. Our brains are literally wired for stories. Through them, we learn from other people’s experiences, remember new information better and play out potential future scenarios in our mind without doing any lasting damage. But most importantly, great stories remind us that despite our unique differences, we all face similar struggles and emotions.
When you’re sick, when you’ve lost someone you loved, when your life has fallen apart and you’re feeling lonely, lost and misunderstood, reading the right book at the right time can change your course.
That’s where bibliotherapy comes in. Ever since the ancient Greeks, people have been self-medicating with books, as a band-aid for a broken heart or an antidote to many ailments.
And for good reasons. Studies show that reading puts our brains into a meditation-like state, making it one of the most effective ways to overcome stress. Besides the obvious cognitive benefits – improved memory, vocabulary and creativity – reading is also a rewarding emotional experience. By identifying with a story’s character, we can see our own situation from a different point of view, gain helpful insights or discover new ways to deal with our problems.
Of course you can pick up any novel when you’re in need of a healing dose of literature. But if you really want to read fiction for therapeutic effects, it helps to choose a story that’s directly related to your own troubles or one that will most likely put your in the mood you’d like to be in.
To help you get started, I’ve listed over 23 classical reads that will lift your spirits, inspire you and help you find meaning in tough times.