To me, nature represents what it is like living with a chronic condition... and in fact, life in general! Here’s a few reasons why:
Nature is also a reminder to consider how we can GROW from the experiences we have. As I’ve said in other blogs, “While I wouldn’t wish my respiratory condition on anyone, it has shaped me into who I am today”.
I work as a mental health promoter for the All Right? Campaign, which works to support and improve Cantabrians' mental health and wellbeing as we recover and rebuild from the earthquakes. The campaign has included messaging based on the Five Ways to Wellbeing, which are evidence based actions that we can do to improve our everyday wellbeing. These are Connect, Be Active, Take Notice, Keep Learning, and Give.
Living with a chronic condition may compromise your physical health, but it doesn’t have to stop you from having good mental health and wellbeing. Here’s a few tips to building the Five Ways to Wellbeing into your every day:
Be Active: We all know being active is important for our lungs, but is just as important for our wellbeing! Being active doesn’t have to mean getting up at 6am to do strenuous exercise, but rather what you can, and what you enjoy - whether that’s gardening, walks with a friend, housework (?!), or even dancing around the house!
Connect: This is a really important one - as respiratory illnesses are invisible and rare, it is normal to feel isolated at times. It’s important that there’s people around us who we can trust as a listening ear. Treasure the relationships you have, and feel connected to the people around you. If you are feeling isolated in regards to your condition, have a look for support groups in your town - or global ones online!
Keep Learning: Don’t worry, you don’t have to go back to school or university! Instead, be curious about the world around you. Research the topics you want to learn more about, and try new things without the fear of failing. There might even be more parts of your treatment that you can learn to do yourself, such as chest physio.
Take Notice: What makes you go wow? What are you grateful for? Take moments throughout the day to take notice of the world around you. To work towards making this a habit, try thinking of three things that you’re grateful for while you’re doing a regular, daily activity - whether that’s brushing your teeth, having a shower, or even doing your inhalers/nebulisers!
Give: With a chronic condition, it’s easy to feel indebted to the people that support you. Know that the little things you do for them are important for both your wellbeing and theirs, whether that’s being a listening ear, surprising them with a random compliment, or writing them a thank you letter. Oh, and don’t forget to give time to yourself too!
Just like nature, everyone is different - so finding out what makes you feel good is a testing ground, and offers an excellent opportunity to try new things!
So, what activities are you going to do this week for your wellbeing?
Emily Arps is the founder of Better Out Than In, a campaign to fundraise and also promote the benefits of physical activity for those with respiratory conditions. Mental Health Awareness Week takes place from 10-16 October 2016.