It’s the time of year when the media is awash with ideas on new year’s resolutions, goals and how to do and be better in 2023. But it can be hard to feel inspired to work towards much of anything when you have a chronic illness. Days can blend into a monotonous and unfulfilling mish-mash of nothingness as we watch the days, and life, pass us by and we may have given up on our life goals.
Whilst there is loads of advice around on finding inspiration, some of it may not be applicable to those of us living with chronic illness, perhaps for financial or physical reasons.
For instance, advice to get up an hour earlier so that we can meditate, do yoga, journal or any other activity of choice may not work if you only managed to get to sleep at 3am due to high pain levels and feel like you have been run over by a bus when you finally do wake up.
So with that in mind, and as part of thinking about what I’d like to focus on in 2023, I decided to do some digging and find some advice on inspiration which might work for us spoonies and help create meaningful forward steps.
Find your tribe
Having a chronic illness may mean changes to your social / professional circle and many of us experience feelings of isolation, but it is still possible to find kindred spirits which can help to inspire us. I tried going along to a support group for fibromyalgia, but for various reasons, it wasn’t for me. But instead, I have a few online groups that I’m part of – these aren’t necessarily chronic illness focussed, some are connected to hobbies and interests. These connections, and feeling inspired by what others are doing gives me the “boot up the backside” I sometimes need!
Plan your time
Taking action, however small the steps, helps you to feel inspired and having a (realistic) plan for your day can help you to feel more in control of your life and moving towards your goals. Of course, it goes without saying that a plan for someone with a chronic illness needs to be fluid as we never know how we will feel and what we will be able to achieve in a given day. But goals don’t have to be huge, like running a marathon and even planning to do 10 minutes of something twice a week is still worthwhile and can be enough to build impetus to move forward to doing more.
Another technique that I was advised to try if I don’t feel inspired to do anything or am doubting the point of doing something is to set a timer for 10 or 15 minutes and do the activity anyway until the timer goes and then assess how I feel. Most of the time, I find that I’m actually enjoying the activity at that point and so usually carry on beyond the initial period.
Going out for a short walk or spending some time in the garden, if you are able to, can help to shake up your thoughts. If you’re feeling stuck and uninspired, then time out in nature can really help you to see things differently and perhaps devise a solution.
Be kind to yourself
For me, the first few years post diagnosis, I behaved horrendously towards myself as deep down, I felt that fibromyalgia was all my fault and that it would never have happened had I been “normal”. Even years on, I am still unpicking certain issues dating back to adolescence, but have found that self hatred isn’t conducive to feeling inspired. So often, you tell yourself that there is no point to anything that you do because you are useless / untalented / a waste of space…. But by practicing self kindness, it is easier to feel that there is a point to any activity and this, in turn, can help you to feel more inspired and thus more likely to take action towards a goal.
So these are just a few suggestions for how to feel a little more inspired as we approach the New Year. It isn’t always easy living with chronic illness but it is still possible to find inspiration and moments of joy in everyday life.
How do you find inspiration or keep motivated if you live with chronic illness?
May 2023 be a happy, peaceful and as healthy as possible for everyone.