Continually dealing with illness can be discouraging and exhausting. You may be regularly putting out fires while jumping from one crisis to another, or simply enduring persistent pain—which offers its own brand of wear-out. We all know the chronic illness journey is a marathon, not a sprint. So how can we keep ourselves going for the long-haul?
Whether you are the one who is ill or the caretaker, here are some ideas:
- Beauty can be a God-given source of comfort. Do you enjoy flowers, candlelight, or aromatherapy? Find ways to incorporate them into a stressful day. Post pictures on your walls of people you love. Pull back the curtains and sit by a window if you can. If you love animals and have the resources to care for one, then get a pet—even if it’s just a parakeet or a fish. Fill your home with colors that make you feel happy or peaceful.
- Surround yourself with inspiring scriptures and quotes. One year I made Michael an “inspiration board.” I bought a push-pin bulletin board and posted photos of other people persevering through illness (some we knew personally and some were well-known public figures.) I cut inspirational sayings from some Christian devotional magazines and even included some articles that provided biblical perspective to our current difficulties. It served as a reminder to him that he is not alone in his struggle and the inspirational words offered a lift when he needed it. If you want to go a simpler route, many people sell $5 printables on Etsy that have beautiful lettering with encouraging sayings. You can frame it and hang it on your wall or just prop it up next to your bed.
- Take time for something that brings you pleasure each day. For you it might be a hot cup of tea and an audiobook. For another person it might be watching a favorite TV show or a football game. Get out of the house, even if it’s only to your back patio or front porch. Call a friend. Take an epsom salt bath to relax. Wear something that’s super-comfortable or helps you look your best. Paint your nails or ask someone to do it for you if needed. Address something on your to-do list that will never be at the top but has bugged you for weeks. You may be surprised how good it feels to finally cross that task off.
- Get outside yourself. Mail a card or thank you note to a friend. Pray for your church. Read about needs people have on the other side of the world. Join an online message board or Facebook group. Find someone else who is sick and seek creative ways to encourage them.
- Ultimately, seek refreshment in God’s presence. Think about His goodness. Keep a gratitude journal. Sing a song of praise. Ask Him to renew you for the journey. And when you do, trust that He will give you the grace you need for each day.
If we can regroup and renew our perspective on a regular basis, we’ll have the refreshment we need to stay the course in this chronic illness journey.
“Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22-23)