Life with a chronic illness is extremely difficult. Challenges seem to hit you right and left and you never know what to expect. So how do you hold down a full-time job and live with the unpredictability of a chronic illness?
Above all, I think it’s key to prioritize yourself. The better self-care we can provide to ourselves the more we will have to give to our job. As they say on an airplane – put on your oxygen mask first before helping others.
This could not be more true than when you have a chronic illness and have other responsibilities on your plate as well. If we don’t take care of ourselves, it’s an even more uphill battle to take care of our other responsibilities.
Pacing is also going to be key to our success. Pacing during our mental activities is more important than one may think. As my doctor reminded me this month, mental activities are “expensive” to our energy envelop. TAKE BREAKS. And by this he meant take complete breaks – no television, switching of activities, etc… Take a complete rest from all activity.
Monitor Your Stress Levels
Whenever I feel stress coming on, I first remember myself that I have a chronic illness. In the scheme of my life, is this new thing really worth stressing about. Quite often I find I no longer stress about what is now the small stuff as I have bigger things on my plate.
If an unavoidable stressor does come along, I try to minimize it the best I can. I break it down into small manageable pieces to avoid the stress from impacting my chronic illness, making the whole ordeal an even bigger mess.
Tell Your Employer?
If you have special needs or accommodations that will help you do your job better, don’t be afraid to ask for them. That said, remember that your illness is your own and nobody’s business unless you choose to share. You are well within your rights to keep it to yourself, especially if you can self-manage it in a way that doesn’t affect your job.
I know, I already said this but it can’t be said enough. Self-care is so important when you have a chronic illness (or even when you don’t!). Prioritize yourself and make sure that you are pacing, truly resting, and being kind to yourself.
Don’t knock yourself down for not being able to do all that you used to do. It’s a hard acceptance pill to swallow, but the sooner you can manage to swallow it, the better you will feel about your days.
How do you Manage Life with a Chronic Illness?
Are you still able to work? If so, have you told your employer? Have you found accommodations that work particularly well for you? Have you found a pacing strategy that works well for you?