Living with a chronic illness can impact more than just your body and mind. It can affect your entire outlook on life. You may not be capable of accomplishing things you had planned, and these realizations can really eat away at your optimism – if you let them.

In truth, chronic illness or not, we all have obstacles. Sometimes, all it takes is reframing our thoughts to get over the hurdle. Sometimes, we need to adjust our goals. But either way, we can live a life worth living.

Here are 5 routines that can help you improve your outlook when you have a chronic illness.

  1. Exercise – When you add exercise to your morning routine, you can improve your mood, sleep, and outlook. It may feel like a chore at first, but once you finish your workout, you’ll start feeling the benefits of natural endorphins that your body releases in response to stress. It’s not a magic cure-all, but you’ll find that it’s much easier to feel optimistic about life when you’re feeling healthier and more energetic. Sitting on the couch isn’t helping anything, so you may as well get up and get moving.
  2. Gratitude – When something is physically wrong, it can be difficult to see past the pain or discomfort. But actually, there has never been a better time than now to practice gratitude. When we’re down on our luck, people like to tell us that it could always be worse. And while we never really want to hear that advice, it is true. You may not have as much as someone else, but you have more than another person. It’s up to ourselves to make the most of our situation. You can start by practicing gratitude for the things you have going for you. If you find it difficult, start keeping a daily journal of the things you were thankful for on that day. It’ll get easier over time.
  3. Take control – Part of the reason why so many of us feel hopelessness with a chronic illness is that hopelessness is practically in the name. When a condition is labeled as chronic, that means it’s ongoing. And when you can’t see an end in sight, how can you have hope for the future? But things really aren’t as hopeless as they may seem. There are people out there who seem to be treating their chronic illnesses with alternative therapies. For example, if you’re struggling with chronic pain, research stem cell clinics. Or if you have multiple sclerosis, look into cannabis. Spend some time each day researching alternative treatments.
  4. Set goals – If you want to retain some hope for the future, you must believe that you can accomplish something with your life (and of course, you can). Considering your current limitations, think about where you see yourself in 5 years. This time isn’t about making sacrifices as much as it’s about redefining success. Revisit your goals daily to stay on track.
  5. Start a hobby – Find a hobby you truly enjoy doing, and you can take your mind away from things like struggles and pressures, if only temporarily. It’s important to remember that life is about more than working and making money. If we can’t enjoy ourselves along the way, what’s the point?

If you’ve been recently diagnosed with a chronic illness, know that you’re not alone. You may need to rethink your future and your goals, but it may be more amazing than you ever thought possible.

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