Anyone who lives with a chronic disease has been here; feeling great, you let yourself think that your disease has turned a corner. And just when you’re ready to celebrate, you wake up experiencing all of your worst symptoms at once. Pain, soreness, swelling,……fill in the blank. This is when your resilience will inevitably be tested. It doesn’t get easier to bounce back from a flare-up time and time again; it gets harder. Hope begins to drain out of your body, and the temptation to give in to the thought that you’ll never feel better again gets stronger. So what’s a resilient person to do?
- Stop asking why. It is natural to try to figure out what caused your body to take two steps back, but it’s rarely useful. The only time you want to do this is if you are trying a new health or medical regimen or are tracking symptoms along with other things like exercise, sleep, emotions, or stress. Otherwise the question why quickly turns into why me. Asking what happened will move into what did I do wrong. And you cycle deeper into illness.
- Learn to make the most of any situation, to access inner peace and the knowledge that this too shall pass. This is easier said than done but not impossible. It takes practice, and it’s best to practice at first when you’re not in a flare. You don’t want to learn to swim when you are about to sink. How do you access inner peace? The choices are many: meditation, prayer, deep breathing, yoga, chanting, taking a walk, sitting in the tub…find the method that works for you and incorporate it into your daily life.
- Remember to be your own best friend. This means that you will have compassion for yourself on bad days as well as good. Actually you will have compassion for yourself ESPECIALLY on bad days. Compassion for oneself is the greatest healer of all.
- Let go of what you think your life should look like and instead accept what is. This doesn’t mean you give in and stop doing what it takes to feel good. Replace expectation and judgment with the wisdom that all life proceeds in cycles: the moon, tides, days and nights. A bear doesn’t try to fight winter when it’s time to hibernate and a resilient person knows that by resting an exhausted, painful body, it will heal quicker.
Courage may be grace under pressure but so is resilience. The road to resilience is paved with practicing this.