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7SmallWaystoPracticeSelf-carewithaChronicIllness

Serena Lawrence
Serena Lawrence Freelance Writer and Editor
6mo Canada Story
7 Small Ways to Practice Self-care with a Chronic Illness

Do you practice self-care? It might sound like a silly concept, especially for people who are used to taking care of other people. However, it is important that every person gives care to themselves (chronically ill or not.) I never practiced self-care until I was diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension. Unfortunately, it took that heavy diagnosis for me to learn to stop and smell the roses.

People with pulmonary hypertension (or other chronic illness) and their caretakers need to take time for themselves. Self-care can range from taking your medication every day as prescribed to doing something small for yourself that simply makes you feel good and is good for your general well-being and mental health.

Below is a list of 7 little things that I learned are okay to do in order to care for myself.

1) Stay in Your Pajamas

Having a day where you’re not feeling so great? There is a reason we wore jammies on the days we stayed home sick from school. Dressing comfortable will make it easier for you to nap, or just rest wherever you sit or lay.

2) Take the Elevator Instead of the Stairs

In this day and age when people are obsessed with counting steps because of FitBit, it is totally okay for YOU to move at your own pace. Do whatever you need to do to make your world more accessible. This includes using one of those fun turbo scooters at the Target store. (I have used one a few times and it made me feel like Johnny Knoxville. Beep beep!)

3) Cancel Plans

Had plans to go out to dinner with your friends this weekend? Woke up feeling awful? It is okay to cancel those plans. Your true friends and your family will understand that you may not always feel up for doing everything. Sometimes you might be too tired or in too much pain or discomfort to truly enjoy being social. The important people in your life would rather you stay home and take care of yourself than push yourself too hard.

At the same time, sometimes I feel like I might be too depressed to see my friends or loved ones. Sometimes I will cancel. But sometimes I will push myself out. The times when I do push myself, I usually feel a little better after leaving the house and having a nice time with my friends. It is important to know when to cancel your plans to take care of yourself, and when seeing your friends and having a change of scenery could help lift your spirits.

4) Have a Spa Day

Once a week I try to treat myself to a spa day— at home. Why would I need a spa day? Sometimes living with pulmonary hypertension can feel like a full-time job. I feel like I need to treat myself to something small, but special, that will help me relax and restore. About once a week I have a Lush Bath Bomb or Bubble Bar, along with a face mask. It feels like I’m sitting in a big cup of unicorn tea. And no, spa days aren’t just for ladies!

Just be sure that your bath isn’t too hot! If you are not comfortable taking a bath, a nice foot bath does the trick. Fill up a big bowl, or some of your tub with warm water, and add some Epsom salts and a little bit of bubble bath. Voila, luxury!

5) Have Fun

Do not feel guilty for having fun. Don’t avoid doing something special in fear of what other people may think (for example, doubting the severity of your illness.) Go on vacation. Try eating at a new restaurant. Go out with your friends. Save up and buy yourself something special. Do whatever you enjoy, are able to do, and that which is special to you and makes you happy. Don’t let what other people might think stop you from going out and enjoying your life.

6) Cut Negativity and Stress Out of Your Life

Easier said than done (I know). If there is any negativity that you are able to cut out of your life, do not hesitate to do it. I know that stress can often make my symptoms feel worse, so I tried my best to remove the people and things in my life that weren’t healthy for me. To cope better with the stressful things I cannot control, I try to practice mindfulness and meditation on a daily basis.

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7) Cheat With a Treat

Last but not least, don’t be afraid to cheat with a treat! I know that many of us try to become healthier in terms lifestyle and diet after being diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension. However, I think each one of us needs a treat to look forward to everyday — or a treat after a particularly hard day.

On a daily basis, I have at least one cup of organic tea that is low to no caffeine. This is usually one thing I like to do for myself that I really enjoy. I just find having a cup of tea so soothing! Sometimes I also treat myself to a square of organic dark chocolate, or another treat that is still slightly healthy and has some health benefits.

For a real tough day, I keep some frozen cupcakes in my freezer. I have one after every pulmonary hypertension related doctor appointment. (However, the cupcakes that I have are gluten-free, dairy free, and made out of healthier and whole ingredients compared to your average baked good!)

You can still cheat, and still try to stay within the lifestyle changes you have made. It is all about finding the right balance for you!

This article was first published on Pulmonary Hypertension News

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9 comments

  • Maire
    6mo ago

    I enjoyed your article thx for sharing your optimistic spirit & wisdom on living & even enjoying life despite a chronic illness. God bless!

    I enjoyed your article thx for sharing your optimistic spirit & wisdom on living & even enjoying life despite a chronic illness. God bless!

    • Serena Lawrence
      Serena Lawrence Freelance Writer and Editor
      6mo ago

      Thank you for the kind words, Maire!

      Thank you for the kind words, Maire!

  • Melissa Herb
    Melissa Herb Certified Transitional Wellness Coach
    6mo ago

    I loved reading this article. Thank you for sharing all of these things because we have to be reminded. Especially for those who suffer with a chronic illness. It's so important to live each day enjoyable and full of life. Even if we are slower, that's okay. We're human!

    I loved reading this article. Thank you for sharing all of these things because we have to be reminded. Especially for those who suffer with a chronic illness. It's so important to live each day enjoyable and full of life. Even if we are slower, that's okay. We're human!

    • Serena Lawrence
      Serena Lawrence Freelance Writer and Editor
      6mo ago

      Thanks so much for taking the time to read it. Self-care is often viewed as being "self indulgent" but I have learned how important and beneficial it is for everyone (chronically ill or not.)

      Thanks so much for taking the time to read it. Self-care is often viewed as being "self indulgent" but I have learned how important and beneficial it is for everyone (chronically ill or not.)

  • Christina Veysey 74

    In living with migraines and Fibromyalgia, which you cannot physically see, I have always felt guilty because people have always said I was faking or "Its all in your head."

    In living with migraines and Fibromyalgia, which you cannot physically see, I have always felt guilty because people have always said I was faking or "Its all in your head."

    • Serena Lawrence
      Serena Lawrence Freelance Writer and Editor
      6mo ago

      It be hard explaining (convincing) invisible illnesses to people who have not experienced. Unfortunately, many people need to see to believe, and even then it is not enough. Do whatever you need to do to make your day a little brighter, or your life a little easier.

      It be hard explaining (convincing) invisible illnesses to people who have not experienced. Unfortunately, many people need to see to believe, and even then it is not enough. Do whatever you need to do to make your day a little brighter, or your life a little easier.

  • Courtney Dercqu
    Courtney Dercqu Influencer
    6mo ago

    Love your article (again!) - thanks for sharing! Self care is so vital and something we unfortunately tend to put on the back burner. I know I do. I'm so consumed with crossing off everything on my to do list that by the time I'm able to take care of myself, I'm too exhausted. I needed this reminder!

    Love your article (again!) - thanks for sharing! Self care is so vital and something we unfortunately tend to put on the back burner. I know I do. I'm so consumed with crossing off everything on my to do list that by the time I'm able to take care of myself, I'm too exhausted. I needed this reminder!

    • Serena Lawrence
      Serena Lawrence Freelance Writer and Editor
      6mo ago

      Thanks so much for taking the time to ready! I hope that self care is seen as a less "self indulgent" act and more of a necessity as we continue to learn more about the need for it. I think it is so important for everyone to practice. Don't be afraid to slow down, take a day off and take care of yourself

      Thanks so much for taking the time to ready! I hope that self care is seen as a less "self indulgent" act and more of a necessity as we continue to learn more about the need for it. I think it is so important for everyone to practice. Don't be afraid to slow down, take a day off and take care of yourself


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Serena Lawrence
Freelance Writer and Editor

Tea snob and pastry enthusiast. Artist turned activist. Boston Terrier mama and bubble bath queen. Raising awareness, advocacy and patient support for pulmonary hypertension.

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