Health & wellbeing

How to maintain wellness when life intervenes with ill health

10 May 2023 | Written by By Kathy Feest

As part of our wellbeing month, The Joy Club member Kathy Feest shares some practical advice on how to maintain your wellbeing even when ill-health intervenes…

There are those days when something physical gets at you and to you.  That knee you banged a few days ago is making it hard to move. The eczema you have to deal with has arrived unannounced and unwanted. Perhaps you have one of many other chronic conditions and you deal with the ups and downs of whatever that condition is on a daily basis.   

If you are suffering from one form or another of a physical ailment, it’s important to double down on your efforts to maintain wellness in other areas of your life. Remember there are six components identified as significant to your wellness. They are emotional, occupational, physical, social, intellectual, and spiritual. Not all aspects of wellness are dependent on good physical health, but life certainly can be more challenging when illness is around.

Making sure that you are doing everything you can for whatever condition you have is part of your wellness journey. Deciding to be positive even when you feel dreadful is an art. Know what works for you before illness strikes or your chronic condition takes a turn for the worse, and you might find it is easier to cope with than you thought. Look at some of the other components of wellness and consider if now might be the time to nurture those areas of your life.  

Living with any condition that keeps you from total health is challenging. Dealing with a chronic condition even more so. There are things you can do in both situations though that mean you are controlling the condition instead of letting the problem control you.

It is possible to reach for the good bits in life despite the limitations illness foists upon us.  According to Harvard Medical School, it pays to organise your approach to your condition. Taking responsibility for your care is essential for you to manage whatever condition you have. In partnership with healthcare providers, which may include your doctor, nurses, physios or others, you can remain at the centre of your wellness journey. Learn as much as you can about whatever it is that ails you, and know that some days are going to be better than others.  

There will be those days when, with the best of intentions, you need to know that to maintain your physical health you might need to rest. Our ancestors knew that, but we seem to have forgotten all about the value of rest. Sleeping is the time when cytokines are released into your system. This is particularly important with infections and might also apply when other ailments are around as well. Cytokines are important proteins that lock onto our cells and help the immune system to get rid of a pathogen. “Pathogen”  literally translates to something that causes suffering – “Pathos” suffering and “gen” generates. Pathogens are either a virus, bacteria, parasite, fungi or prion.  Some cytokines even help you by making you feel tired and then producing more of what you need when you are asleep. If you don’t get the sleep you need when your immune system is fighting things off, you will take longer to feel better. Sometimes rest really is best.  

If you’re feeling up to it now might be a good time to reach for the comedy box set that makes you laugh. Did you know that laughing actually helps your immune system? Not only does laughter help you feel better in the moment, it also helps your body and mind in the long term. When you’re feeling lousy try putting on that comedy that you love and watch it again for the tenth time. It might help! 

Thinking about wellness requires a fluid approach to life with many components, rather than a single option with one destination, and could help when the rhythm of life is not as you might like it to be. Staying positive when you are feeling bashed isn’t easy but is possible. An important factor to remember is that even the worst diagnosis you can imagine comes with good days and bad days. 

What you do with those days is in your control. It’s YOUR wellness journey. Make the most of it!

Kathy Feest has a wealth of experience with writing, leadership and personal development mentoring. Kathy fulfilled her dream at the age of 41 and earned her first University degree; she went on to complete a PhD in Medical Education. She regularly runs self-development workshops at The Joy Club so keep your eyes on our events calendar for one of her next live sessions.

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