Do you feel like you’re stuck in an endless cycle of doctor’s appointments, treatments and medications? I feel you, my friend! And let me be the first to tell you that chronic illness burnout is REAL!
Don’t worry; you’re not alone! Nearly every single person with a chronic illness has experienced the dreaded burnout, but thankfully there are a few things we can do to stay positive, focused and conquer anything life throws our way.
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What is Chronic Illness Burnout?
Chronic illness burnout is a debilitating state resulting from prolonged, unmanaged, chronic stress experienced by folks living with chronic illnesses.
What many people don’t understand is that this goes beyond regular stress and is characterized by emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion, often accompanied by a sense of depersonalization and reduced personal accomplishment. Yowzer!
Understanding and addressing chronic illness burnout EARLY can help us warriors regain control, seek appropriate support (three cheers for therapy!), and develop strategies to manage our conditions.
Managing Chronic Illness Burnout
If you have a chronic illness, then you already know that it can be a constant struggle to maintain your physical and mental health on top of your sickness!
So, based on my personal experience, here are my top 7 secrets to beating chronic illness burnout!
1. Find ways to be creative and stay motivated
Go ahead, dust off that paintbrush, pick up that guitar, or dive into that DIY project you’ve been eyeing.
When you engage in creative activities, whether it’s photography, writing, or even crafting the perfect soufflé, you tap into a new wave of inspiration that can lift your spirit and combat the weariness of chronic illness.
As you start flexing your creative muscle, you’ll discover a renewed sense of purpose and accomplishment, reminding yourself that you’re capable of so much more than your illness may lead you to believe.
When I was sick and barely able to get out of bed, I would watch YouTube videos learning everything I could about blogging, websites, SEO, etc. Now, I find that writing is very therapeutic and rewarding, which helps me manage the burnout battle.
What’s your creative outlet? Don’t be afraid to explore!
2. Learn to take a break (for reals!)
This might sound kinda obvious but…. Learning to set aside time each day to relax and recharge is a game-changer in managing the overwhelming challenges of chronic illness.
Even if it’s just a precious five minutes to yourself, whether it’s journaling your thoughts, practicing deep breathing exercises, or simply sitting in quiet contemplation, these moments of calm can work wonders for your well-being.
During the thick of my chronic illness battle, no matter how awful I was feeling, I made sure to have dedicated devotional time each morning. It provided me with a routine during a time of life that was frustrating and unpredictable.
Btw, check out my 30-Day Self-Love Journal to get started on your morning quiet time
I know It’s hard not to let chronic illness define every moment of your existence, but by taking a scheduled break for yourself (not illness- forced rest!), you can reclaim your power and carve out moments of peace amid the storm.
So, whether it’s a five-minute journaling session or a longer break to engage in activities that bring you joy, remember that these moments are crucial for managing chronic illness burnout in the long run.
3. Spend time with friends and family who bring joy to your life (and ditch those who don’t!)
When we’re battling chronic illness, the last thing we want to do is be social – it seems much easier on our aching bodies to huddle up at home alone.
But… the opposite is actually true! One of the most important sources of support and rejuvenation can come from spending quality time with friends and family who bring joy to your life.
These cherished relationships are a powerful antidote to the challenges and fatigue that chronic illness can bring. When you surround yourself with loved ones who lift your spirit and create a positive atmosphere, the benefits are truly remarkable.
I know there were plenty of times I felt I couldn’t get out the door to have lunch with that friend or go for a walk with Paul, but you know what? It always made me feel better – every time.
Remember – you are NOT a burden, and your friends do want to hear from you, promise!
4. Ditch the internet and digital screens
When you’re chronically sick, It might seem like the only way you connect with the outside world is digitally, but that’s probably adding to your burnout and exhaustion. Here me out….
Stepping away from the constant stream of information and online interactions can provide a much-needed break for both the mind and body.
While I was battling chronic illness, I took many social media sabbaticals… yes, on one hand, I felt even more disconnected from the outside world, but my mental health honestly improved
Plus, when I stopped doom-scrolling, it forced me to get out to see my friends (when I could) instead of living vicariously through their online lives!
The constant presence of social media, messaging apps, and online platforms can contribute to feelings of comparison, stress, and information overload, all of which can intensify chronic illness burnout.
So go ahead and try disconnecting and break free from the pressures and expectations of the digital world (at least for a little while 😀)
5. Do whatever it is that brings you joy
When chronic illness strikes, it’s hard to find joy in much of anything… but deliberately seeking out sources of happiness and joy can have a profound effect on your overall well-being.
Try focusing on positive things, such as your favorite music, movies, or books to help bring joy and a renewed sense of fulfillment.
For me, I created a ‘soul songs’ playlist that helped me find peace during a noisy time of my life…. I also started reading A LOT of books which helped me not feel so alone in my battle. (If you want my reading list of a link to the soul songs, I’ll hook you up!)
But one book that I think all my spoonie chronic illness warriors should read is, “This Too Shall Last” by K.J. Ramsey. It’s a Christian-based book that helped me tremendously!
No matter what you choose, incorporating joyful activities into our daily routines can help us carve out moments of relaxation, pleasure, and personal fulfillment amidst the challenges of chronic illness.
6. Prioritize self care
By dedicating time to self-care, we can recharge, replenish our energy, and better cope with the demands of chronic illness.
Think about adding light exercise, warm baths, facial treatments, or other forms of pampering to help you take a break from the challenges of illness.
For me, when I was battling the height of my chronic illness, it often felt selfish to prioritize self care. (And maybe you feel that way too?) But… I got weekly massages, exercised most days (even if just a short walk!), and took naps almost every afternoon! It was what I needed to do to take care of myself at the deepest level.
Decide what self care activities you will prioritize, and then don’t give up on ‘em! I promise your body and mind will thank you 😉
7. See a therapist
Admittedly, I was against ‘seeing someone’ or getting a counselor when battling chronic illness… but getting professional help was HUGE in my recovery…. As a matter of fact, now I think EVERYONE should see a therapist (sick or not!)
Therapists and counselors provide a safe and non-judgmental space for us to express our feelings, fears, and frustrations about chronic illness. (And there are always a lot!)
They can assist in identifying negative thought patterns, managing stress, and cultivating resilience. Plus, therapists help provide tools and techniques to cope with the emotional rollercoaster that often accompanies chronic illness, including feelings of sadness, frustration, and isolation.
Sometimes it’s hard to know where to start or even find someone to talk to, but don’t let that hold you back from getting the support you need. Pro tip: Try BetterHelp.com
My experience with chronic illness burnout
Living with chronic illness burnout has been a rough journey (to say the least!) It’s been one filled with physical, emotional, and mental challenges. And each day would bring a relentless cycle of fatigue, pain, and uncertainty. Chronic migraines and Lupus can be crippling….
Being a spoonie now meant that even simple tasks that were once effortless now required careful planning and pacing. The constant need to prioritize self-care and manage my energy levels was frustrating and isolating.
The unpredictability of flare-ups and setbacks adds an additional layer of stress and anxiety. I always hated trying to make plans – because I never knew if I would feel well enough to make it …..And I HATED always bailing on friends that were counting on me.
Despite these challenges, I’ve learned to embrace resilience and adaptability. I’ve discovered the importance of self-compassion and the power of seeking support from loved ones and professionals like my therapist.
Sharing my journey with chronic illness burnout serves as a reminder that I am not alone and that there is strength in vulnerability. It is my hope that by sharing my personal experience, I can raise awareness, foster understanding, and offer solace to others who are navigating similar struggles.
Together, we can navigate the complexities of chronic illness burnout and find ways to live a fulfilling and meaningful life despite the challenges we face.
I’m cheering you on!
Beat chronic illness burnout – The wrap
While taming the beast that is chronic fatigue can seem overwhelming at times, rest assured that you’re not alone in this battle.
Take your time with each tactic and find what works for you. With the right combination of strength and resilience, you can overcome this hurdle and come out feeling more energized than ever before.
So don’t be afraid to tackle any challenge that comes your way – they only make you stronger!
Remember, keep putting one foot in front of the other – even if it’s just a step towards wholeness at a time.
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