Archive for January, 2011

How to Feel Better Instantly

Monday, January 31st, 2011

Today I want to tell you how to feel better instantly. It’s something I learned from my ex-wife.

Here’s how the lesson came about: When we were married, we had more than our share of heated arguments, and sometimes when we in the middle of one, the phone would ring. My ex would answer it in a completely normal voice. And if it was a friend of hers, she would have a conversation that often included smiles and laughter. There would not be even the slightest indication that up until the moment when she picked up the phone, she was furious or upset.

A friend of mine recently shared with me another example about feeling better, although the change didn’t happen as quickly as it did for my ex-wife.

What happened was that her ex-husband had told her that he was going to have her declared an unfit mother and take her young daughter away from her. As you can imagine, she became very upset, anxious, and afraid. She could have stayed that way, but she consciously made the decision to change. What she did instead of dwell on those feelings was to ask her five-year-old daughter what she wanted to be for Halloween. Her daughter responded that she wanted to be a waterfall. My friend used her ingenuity, creativity, and sewing skills to create a wonderful waterfall costume, and experienced a lot of happiness and aliveness as she did. And her ex-husband’s threat to have her declared an unfit mother went nowhere.

In case you’re wondering what these stories have to do with people with chronic illnesses, the answer is a lot. That’s because dealing with the feelings and emotions that come with having a chronic illness can be as hard as or even harder than dealing with the illness itself. And as the examples I’ve described have shown, there are things we can do so that negative feelings get replaced by positive ones – sometimes in an instant.

So I strongly suggest that when you’re struggling and feeling upset, anxious, or overwhelmed, that you not dwell on those feelings. Instead, have a conversation with a friend or find something to do that you enjoy and find engrossing.

If you would like more ideas for how to live well when you have a chronic illness, I invite you to get my free report: Do You Hate Having a Chronic Illness? You Can Live Well Anyway – Here’s How!

Ask Yourself Why

Wednesday, January 19th, 2011

Last year, until it closed down, I was a volunteer for an online support group that was for people with chronic illnesses. I supported them in managing and overcoming the depression that often accompanies serious long term illnesses. In order to be able to do that better, I asked the people in the group to take a survey. One of the questions I asked in it was what they would do if they weren’t ill and depressed.

Almost everyone who responded said they would do more, and most of the things they said would do involved other people. Some said they would travel to visit relatives, some said they would go back to work (which for many of them involved helping others), and a high percentage of them said they would socialize more.

Having coached people with chronic illnesses for many years as well as having a chronic illness myself, I can well understand and relate to their answers. I bet you can too. But in a way, those answers were incomplete. They were incomplete because the question was incomplete. And the question was incomplete because when you’re chronically ill and depressed, it’s important to think about not only what you would like to do if you could, but why you would do it.

Asking yourself that question can help you discover what you want and need most. And surprising as it may seem, when we have a chronic illness—and are depressed because we do, we often don’t know what we want and need most. We get so caught up in how bad we feel, and how awful and unfair we think it is that we have an illness, that we lose touch with all of our wants and needs except our desire to be well again. The good thing is that when we do find out what those wants and needs are, we can then take steps to meet them.

For example, if you realize that the reason you want to socialize more is because doing so will help you feel more connected to others, you can brainstorm and list all the ways you can think of to connect with and feel more connected to others. Or if you realize that you want to work because doing so would help you feel good because you were helping and contributing to others, you can brainstorm and list all the ways you can think of to do that. Then you can look at your lists, decide which ways would be the most feasible and effective, and start doing them.

I invite you to share your thoughts about my suggestions, as well as your experiences, both positive and negative, from trying them out. And if you would like more suggestions, I invite you to get my free report: “Do You Hate Having a Chronic Illness? You Can Live Well Anyway – Here’s How!” by clicking on the box that’s under the words “Free Report” on the right side of this page.