One of my favorite quotes comes from Maya Angelou “If you don’t like something change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.” Attitude and mind-set are an ever-present factor when dealing with a chronic disease. Let’s face it, when we are in the throes of pain or having trouble with cognition it’s difficult staying positive or cheery; however, when we force a smile, or force a kind word, despite how we feel, somehow, it helps. It places us above our illness. For one moment, the illness didn’t control us.
Remaining in control is the key here. We always have a choice over our words, no matter how we feel. That small bit of power gives us control over our attitude. If we can make things easier for someone else in their day, we can join in their happiness. It does wonders to stimulate the mind.
Another factor that helps with improved wellness is endorphin release which triggers by stress or pain. Endorphins are brain chemicals that interact with the opiate receptors in the brain that help reduce our perception of pain. There are other triggers to release endorphins; chocolate, chili peppers, acupuncture, massage, sex and meditation. It’s likely there are many others; however, these are the common ones.
Keeping track of the positive things in our lives also helps. So many times when people journal or blog they focus on hardship or sadness. I would like to propose keeping a “positive journal” where once a week or as often as necessary we write something good that happened to us. You would be so surprised at how difficult this is for some people in the beginning. But even a simple act like a family pet sitting with us when we were down could be a positive event. The idea is not to write about the negative event but dwell in the positive action in our writing. Then, when we are feeling down, instead of thinking negative thoughts, we read our positive journal and dwell in it. This is a way to retrain the mind from thinking negative to thinking positive. When something good happens and we write about it we should consider whether we’ve grown from the experience, whether we’ve gained any new skills or in-site, even write about whether we are proud of how we handled things. All of these things will help shape us on our way to healthier thinking.
Another goal is to turn from a pessimist to an optimist. Visualize short-term goals coming true. Imagine the positive reactions spurned by achieving some goal. You are not necessarily ignoring the bad things in life, they are there, but you are choosing to focus on the positive instead.
Should we find ourselves once again dwelling in the negative despite our efforts…and we will, in the beginning especially, then, distract your thoughts; watch a movie, work on a craft, solve a problem. Do something that will keep the negativity at bay. Surround yourself with positive people. Negative people will drag you back down.
Lastly, imagine what you would say to a friend dealing with the issues you are dealing with. Would you encourage them to do the things you are doing and stay in that negativity or would you pull them up and offer suggestions for their well-being. Step outside the problem and look for a non-conventional solution.