Chances are if you are reading this post, you have been through your share of rough patches. A diagnosis, by default, is a chronic rough patch. We must learn to cope and deal with these patches while allowing our bodies to be at peace and heal. That’s pretty tricky, no? I’ve learned how to circumvent some of these patches, or push through rather, over the course of my illness. Here are four tips, or lessons I have learned, that I hope can help you when you’re experiencing one of those rough patches.
1. Give. Whenever I am in a rough patch, I give. Whether it is my time or my thoughts. It’s even tattooed on my forearm. Give. I have always known how giving makes me feel, but even science has proven that GIVING helps US in the long run. A 2008 study by Harvard Business School found that giving money to someone else lifted participants’ happiness more than spending it on themselves. What’s even more interesting, another study by Stephen Post, the author of Why Good Things Happen to Good People, has shown that GIVING has health benefits for those living with multiple sclerosis! Score!
2. Talk. Any person, including myself, tends to isolate when they hit a rough patch. Isolating is the worst thing you can do. The universe gave you friends for a reason. Talk to them. Vent to them. If you know yourself and know you won’t reach out, put a support system in place that knows the red flags and can tell when you’re feeling isolated. They can help you see the signs and listen. OR, choose talking therapy. There are benefits to talking to someone who does not know you well. They are trained and objective! People living with long-term health conditions are particularly vulnerable to depression, and talking therapies have been proven to help, especially with multiple sclerosis!
3. Gratitude. This may sound crazy, but be grateful. Gratitude is the key to happiness. You may not be able to feel gratitude for the situation that is pulling you down, but be grateful for all the things you do have. If they can do it, I can do. And you can do it too. Studies show that we can deliberately cultivate gratitude. It is like a muscle we can work out and develop. Once developed it can increase our well-being and happiness. But it starts with grateful thinking. When you get there you will see increased levels of energy, optimism, and empathy.
4. Keep Moving. Just go forward. One step at a time and stick to your routine. Sitting at home ruminating on how rough our lives are will leave us feeling worse. Get out there and live your life. Stick to your routine. I cannot tell you how many times my routine has saved me from a super rough patch. Sticking to the routine was the difference between hitting a rough patch and falling into a deep depression.
So GO! Go forward, keep it moving, with a grateful, giving heart, no matter what, and then come back and tell me about it!