Disclaimer: While I offer tips for maintaining wellness while dealing with a chronic illness, I’m not a licensed medical physician, psychotherapist, or psychologist, and I’m not offering medical or psychiatric advice.
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I remember when I first got diagnosed with Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension. I was so scared about what the future would hold and felt like my life was over. I couldn’t see any possibility of thriving through this condition, much less learning to accept it.
But as time went on, I learned that instead of fighting against the inevitable truth that this condition is probably here to stay – and will probably affect every aspect of my life – I could lean into acceptance, and begin the process of creating a life that integrates my whole self, illness included.
And through this process, I learned that life didn’t have to look as limiting as I initially thought. It all comes down to my ability to practice acceptance.
That’s why in today’s post, I’m sharing all about acceptance for those living with chronic illness and pain, as part of a series on the 5 Keys to Adaptability for Those Living With Chronic Illness.
As I’m sure you already know, living with a chronic illness can be challenging, both physically and emotionally. Acceptance is one way to combat these challenges, so keep reading to learn how to embrace this practice to live life more joyfully – despite your illness or condition.
What is acceptance, and why does it matter for coping with chronic illness?
According to Oxford Languages Dictionary, acceptance can be defined as the “willingness to tolerate a difficult or unpleasant situation”.
But why does acceptance for those living with chronic illness matter, you may be asking? Well, in this case, acceptance means realizing and understanding the reality of your illness or condition and how it affects your life, rather than denying or resisting it.
It could mean that instead of pushing yourself physically and mentally to keep up with the same pace of living that you had before you became ill, you accept that your energy level and capabilities have changed, and make adjustments.
For me, this looked like no longer being involved in a choir (singing and the vibrations of music and the voices of others cause me pain), and giving up my full-time job and the ability to drive.
Acceptance for those living with chronic illness is really a crucial part of learning to embrace adaptability. Because without it, any other coping strategy won’t really make a difference if you’re not fully grounded in how your illness actually affects your life.
So, are you ready to learn how to practice acceptance to cope with chronic illness? Let’s dive in below!👇
How to practice acceptance for those living with chronic illness
When we first get diagnosed with chronic illness, or otherwise come to the conclusion that the pain, discomfort, and health challenges we face are going to be long-term, it can feel very overwhelming.
I don’t know about you, but I went through a period of shock and grief after my diagnosis when I learned that there isn’t really anything that can be done to cure my condition, simply manage it. And if you’re in this place right now, know that this is such an important part of the process – it makes sense to grieve the life you had and to be scared about what the future may hold.
But it’s also important to move through these feelings and into a place of acceptance so that we can live a life full of as much joy and possibility as we can manage. And acceptance for those living with chronic illness is the most important part of beginning that journey.
Here are some ways to practice acceptance:
- Learn about your illness: Don’t rely on your doctors to have all of the knowledge about your illness or condition. By educating and empowering yourself with knowledge about your illness, you’ll be better able to cope.
- Don’t stop setting goals, just change how you do it: While it may feel more challenging to set goals that are achievable with chronic illness, it’s not impossible. They just need to be smaller and more manageable. For example, instead of setting a goal to work out for 30 minutes every day, try setting a goal to get in some sort of movement practice whenever you feel you have the energy to do so. This simple shift in approach gets us out of the “all or nothing” mindset and opens up more possibilities for us by allowing our goals to be adapted to what we’re currently capable of.
- Practice Mindfulness: By learning to live in the moment, the anxiety and stress that can accompany chronic illness can feel less overwhelming. Some great mindfulness techniques include meditation, deep breathing, and EFT Tapping.
- Find a Community: Living with chronic illness and pain can feel so isolating sometimes. But it’s important to remember that you’re not alone, and connecting with others with the same or similar conditions can be so helpful in learning to accept and adapt to your new life. Check out support groups offered by your local healthcare services, or find one online – both can be a very valuable source of support.
- When appropriate, seek professional help: Sometimes, learning to accept and adapt to chronic illness isn’t something we can do on our own. It’s important to know when it feels like too much and to seek the help of a licensed professional who can guide you through the struggle and teach you ways to move through the difficult emotions and help you learn new ways of coping.
Remember: acceptance isn’t an overnight achievement, but a long-term process.
Be patient with yourself as you adjust to this new way of practicing acceptance for living with chronic illness. Over time, and with consistent practice, accepting how chronic illness affects your life can truly help lead you to a place of more peace and fulfillment – so you can live a life by your own design, and not be limited by your diagnosis.
Are you ready to take control of your chronic illness and improve your quality of life? Download the free guide to the 5 Keys to Adaptability for Chronic Illness and learn practical strategies for living life on your terms, and coping with what it means to live with chronic illness. Don’t be limited by your diagnosis – get the free guide below!
May your flares be few and your spoons be plenty,