Living with any form of chronic illness can leave you with a lot of variables and unknowns in your life.
How will I feel tomorrow?
Will I have enough energy to get through work?
What will my test results show?
What if I fall into a flare?
How can I plan so far in advance, I don’t even know what tomorrow looks like?
Unfortunately all of the above statements are just a FEW of the worries that run through the head of people living with a chronic illness. This can lead to fear, anxiety and depression if not addressed or managed wisely.
It has taken me years to figure out what works for me and how I manage the fear of the unknown, and I am still learning and modifying my techniques as I go. But, today I will share with you my best advice for how I manage the fear of the unknown in my life.
1. Accept What Is
It is very easy to stay in denial about your condition or your symptoms. But, the sooner you learn to accept what is true in the moment the better your life will be. It is important to trust in the Universe, God, or whatever higher power you believe in, and to release control to them. Once, you learn to trust that your life will unfold EXACTLY as it should, your mind will be more at peace.
Journaling is something that I have talked about time and time again on this blog. But, it truly is a great way to release emotions. By getting all of your jumbled thoughts onto paper you will be able to better see the thoughts as they are. A regular journaling practice in the morning or at night can help you to release some of the negative thoughts in your brain and help to keep your mind more calm and clutter free.
3. Meditation & Movement
Meditation is probably the best tip that I can give someone who is struggling with the fear of the unknown. During meditation you are able to clear your mind and focus on your breath. Developing a regular meditation practice will bring tremendous stress relief into your life, but it will also allow you to think clearer.
Movement is something that I also think is important when dealing with fears. Movement allows you to focus on something else and it also releases endorphins which will increase your serotonin levels making you happier.
4. Be Open
It is very important to be open and honest with the people around you about your fears. Talk to your friends, family and doctors often about any concerns you have with your medical condition.
If you find that you are feeling overwhelmed, anxious or depressed, it may also be worth discussing this with a therapist. They would give you an objective response to your situation and they would also teach you techniques to help work through the emotions.
5. Don’t Assume
There is no point in wasting your precious moments worrying about something that could be wrong. You don’t have the answers yet so for now breathe and find a way to distract your mind. Youtube videos are my favorite way to find some distraction when I need it.
It is important to neither assume the best or assume the worst. This is because you do not want to get your hopes up and then have them crushed. But, you also don’t want to assume the worse because this will leave you worrying for days. Therefore, it is best to try to make NO assumptions about test results, conditions, etc.
But, if you do need to assume something always aim for assuming the best.
6. Consider the Worst
I find that it can be helpful to make a list of all of the problems and issues going on in my life at the moment. From there I can separate all the items on the list into two categories, what I can control and what I cannot. So, I go through the list one by one and for the items that are not in my control I write down the worst possible scenario for each item on the list. For the things that are under my control I write a way to solve the solution.
This exercise helps me to see what the absolute worst case scenario is, and most of the time the scary worst case scenario really isn’t so bad. I use this list technique often when I feel overwhelmed with a lot of things going on in my life and when I need to make a decision. This helps me to gain perspective and see all of my thoughts on paper.
7. Don’t Be Afraid of Extra Support
Although anxiety and depression medication would never be my first recommendation. If you have tried other techniques and all else has failed it is okay to get extra support from an anti-depressant or anti-anxiety medication.
In the time leading up to my surgery I became very sad and anxious despite all the meditation, yoga, and journaling I would do. So, I made the decision to take an anti-depressant to help me through that time.
There is nothing wrong with taking medication to help with anxiety and depression. If it allows you to feel better and more yourself, than more power to you!
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