When’s the last time someone told you to “just be positive” after sharing your struggles?
There’s a tricky relationship between positive thinking, health and happiness. Over the past decade, experts have promoted positivity as a simple but highly effective tool to lead a happier and healthier life.
And rightfully so. Positivity has been linked to lower levels of stress, stronger immunity, better cardiovascular health, increased feelings of physical and emotional wellbeing, and even a longer lifespan. Cultivating positive feelings like joy, hope and inspiration also builds good mental habits such as attention, resilience and optimism, which in turn buffer the potential negative effects of stressful times.
But anyone’s who’s ever been seriously sick knows there’s another side to positive thinking and health.
Let’s be honest: living with chronic illness isn’t terribly romantic. When you’re sick, you probably don’t feel very sexy, nor do you have much energy for typical date night activities. Going on a romantic night out just isn’t that obvious when you’re tired, in pain or suffer from severe food sensitivities.
But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make time for love when you’re chronically ill. On the contrary; now more than ever you may want to have fun together, forget about your worries for a while and strengthen your bond.
Thankfully, with a little creativity you can still have a fabulous time together. And the good news is, you don’t even have to leave your home to relax, rekindle and do something exciting. Because in the end, a romantic or playful atmosphere matters more than what you actually do.
So if you’re looking for new ways to enjoy each other’s company despite chronic illness, take a look at these 12 low-energy ideas for a cozy date night at home.
When you think of meditating, do you picture sitting in lotus, focusing on nothing but your breath? ‘Emptying your mind’ isn’t the only kind of meditation. You can do a relaxing body scan, practice a walking meditation or count your breaths. A little less known, but not less meaningful, is the loving-kindness mediation.
A loving-kindness meditation is a mindfulness technique used to increase feelings of warmth and goodwill towards yourself and others. As you might expect, experiencing warm feelings has several benefits for your wellbeing. In her book Positivity, Barbara Fredrickson shows how regularly practicing loving-kindness mediation produces positive emotions like joy, contentment and gratitude. Studies also found that doing loving-kindness meditation increases your compassion, helps you feel more connected and improves your self-image.
What’s less obvious, is that doing a loving-kindness mediation also supports your physical health. Because mindful awareness lowers your stress levels, having loving thoughts improves your vagal tone – a physiological marker of wellbeing – and decreases pain.
Sounds pretty good, right? If you also want to give your happiness, relationships and body image a boost, take a look at how you can do a loving-kindness meditation.
This article is written by Melisa Marzett from Essay Editor.
It’s a real shock to find out that someone you care about suffers from a disease that could lead to disability or even death. To family and friends, it may seem like their plans and dreams together have faded, and only uncertainty, loss and grief remain.
“Loneliness constantly tormented me, it seemed as if I was cut off from everyone,” says my friend Kathleen, whose husband suffered from chronic depression. “Nothing ahead could be seen. We could not even invite guests or go to someone. In the end, we almost completely stopped communicating with people.” Many relatives, just like Kathleen, experience guilt because they feel there’s little they can do to help.
Swiss-American psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross established that a significant part of ill people go through several stages of grief when diagnosed with a (life-threatening) illness. What do these phases look like and what can family and friends do to support a loved one with a chronic disease?
When you’ve endured deep pain and hardship, your heart seems to crack wide open for other people’s suffering too. You wouldn’t want anyone else to go through the same despair, loneliness and aching you’ve experienced. That’s why I believe in the famous words of mother Theresa:
“Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier.”
Being a caring person doesn’t just do good, it also feels good. Scientific research suggests that compassion and altruism aren’t just positive for the world, they’re great for your own health too. According to brain-imaging studies, giving to others is as rewarding as receiving. It promotes happiness, social connections and even longevity. What’s more, researchers found that people who were happy because they lived a purposeful life rich in compassion and altruism, had low inflammation levels, which is associated with a reduced risk of illness.
And best of all, generosity and kindness seem to be contagious, spreading to others like a chain reaction. All the more reason to spread a little love with random acts of kindness!
On a side note: I understand that the phrase ‘random acts of kindness’ refers to the inconsistency of the small kind gestures, compared to doing weekly volunteer work or serving your country through your daily work. But when you purposely try to do good on a somewhat regular basis, it’s not that random, right?
Now volunteering in a soup kitchen, participating in a beach clean-up or joining a Big Brother, Big Sister program are all noble causes. But when you’re chronically ill, in financial troubles or overwhelmed from juggling work and home life, you may have the heart of a philanthropist, but not the matching bank account or physical resources. That’s why I made a list of ‘not-so random’ acts of kindness that anyone can do’, even if you’re sick, sad or without money to donate.
Have a look at these 44 acts of kindness to support loved ones, strengthen your community and make the world a nicer place (while boosting your own health too!).
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