OC Chapter Leader Shana recently received an email from a fellow #ahasmember who revealed that they struggle with chronic illness--fibromyalgia and depression were really affecting their business. They asked Shana for tips on dealing with the marathon that is chronic illness (it's not something to just push through, as--by definition--it's not going anywhere). As someone who deals with chronic illness, this is really close my heart (you can read more about that in this blog post).
Here are Shana's tips for being a successful maker while coping with chronic illness, but honestly, they are great for anyone. Thank you so much for sharing your valuable, unique, badass perspective, Shana!
Being a maker, I understand the frustration of acknowledging and working within (and sometimes around!) the constraints of a chronic illness. I have had to learn to be patient with my body and not beat myself up when I get too sick to do everything I want. I also suffer from depression. I was diagnosed with complex-PTSD and some days things are just debilitating.
Here are a few things I do that you may find helpful.
1. Be patient with yourself (this can be very hard sometimes I know).
2. Don't overdo it on "good" days. Self-care is very important. You can't push yourself too hard on "good" days because you will pay for it later. Learn your triggers if you haven't already and stop when you sense them. If you push yourself too hard, it only makes it worse.
3. Make your workspace work for you. I work out of my home and commercial kitchen. So, at home I work at my desk and then I have a special table for bed and I sometimes have to work there a lot so I make it as comfortable as possible.
4. Prioritize, prioritize, prioritize. I can't stress this enough. Make an actual list of what is the most important things to get done. Categorize things to do based on "good" days and challenging days. For example on more challenging days I focus on marketing/admin work. On "good" days I go to the kitchen and build inventory.
5. Ask for help with things that others can help you with. For example, friends can help label packaging etc... If you have people around you who are willing to help, then DO let them: there’s nothing shameful in that.
6. Take a day off and have some fun. This is super important because it is part of self-care. Stress is a huge trigger and if we don't find ways to destress, then we will be no good to our business. Fun varies based on how I feel: I take myself to the movies, play videogames in bed with my kids or watch a movie on Netflix. (I also create a "I am feeling lousy” playlist of movies and shows because non-stop work on challenging days can make things worse.
7. Keep it zen. Again, be patient with yourself: frustration adds to our stress. I know it is hard, but that negative, self-critical thinking won't make your situation any better.
Fibro and mental illness suck! But I hope these help you in some way and if you ever need to reach out to me feel free.