While being a writer has many benefits, it also comes with several unique challenges. One of the biggest is having to balance your life and your career. That becomes even more difficult when you have a chronic illness.
Dealing with a chronic illness can make it difficult to meet deadlines, or stay on top of your goal of publication. You might even find it more difficult to stay motivated or inspired at times.
One of the good parts about your profession, however, is that you can still write with most chronic illnesses. You don’t have to give up your livelihood because of your condition. But, that doesn’t necessarily mean it will be easy.
So, what can you do to cope with your illness while staying on top of your writing career?
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Take Care of Your Physical Health
As a writer, you may be more susceptible to certain chronic conditions. Chances are, you’re sedentary most of the day while you’re working. Unfortunately, that kind of lifestyle can cause problems like:
- Increased blood pressure
- Cardiovascular disease
It can also contribute to varicose veins, which aren’t only unsightly but can cause throbbing, itching, or aching.
Prevention s always the best way to go when it comes to warding off a chronic illness. That requires focusing on your physical health. Take frequent breaks from your writing and use them to stay active. Spend time outside. Eat a healthy diet.
Even if you already have a chronic condition, those tips are just as important. You might not always feel up to exercising when you’re sick or in pain. But, even light stretching can make a big difference in how you feel. Keeping your body healthy and strong will help to boost your immune system, making it easier to fight off disease and keep any existing conditions from getting worse.
Be Realistic With Your Writing
If you’re dealing with a chronic condition, it’s important to know that it doesn’t have to control your identity. You are not your illness.
However, there may be some changes and adjustments you need to make in your life to manage the illness effectively. That might include adjusting your expectations when it comes to your career. Your goals need to coincide with the rest of your life. The last thing you want to do is overwork yourself and experience physical and/or mental burnout.
Take this time to redefine what productivity means to you. It’s okay to adjust your definition, so you can make sure you’re getting the rest you need while still feeling productive. That might mean not writing every day, but doing other things that can spark inspiration and keep you motivated, like:
- Reading other books or articles from respected authors
- Listening to podcasts
- Watching TV
- Connecting with your audience on social media
On “bad days” when it feels like you can’t get out of bed, don’t beat yourself up over it. Allow yourself days to do nothing. They could be better for your physical and mental health than you realize.
Manage Your Mental Health
Speaking of your mental health, it’s just as important to make it a priority as it is to take care of your body. It’s estimated that about one-third of people with chronic illnesses also deal with depression.
Taking care of your emotional well-being will help you to realize your life still means something, and there is still plenty you can do even on days when it doesn’t feel like it. From a writing standpoint, allowing yourself to slip into a state of depression will often make you feel uninspired, unmotivated, and perhaps even resentful of the work you’ve done in the past.
Thankfully, you can take care of your mental health in a variety of ways. It starts with finding a healthcare provider that is willing to work with you. Your provider should be able to give you as much information as possible about your condition, so you can feel empowered instead of fearful. The right provider can also connect you with a mental health professional, if necessary, so you’ll have a better chance of understanding and coping with your feelings.
As a writer, one of the “perks” is having a flexible schedule. While it’s important to see your healthcare provider regularly, you can use that flexibility to make appointments at almost any time, instead of during peak hours. Chances are, with the physician shortage taking its toll on the U.S., your provider will appreciate that.
It’s important to have a support system in your corner, too. You’re not going to be able to connect with your healthcare provider, therapist, or counselor 24/7. Leaning on family members and friends for emotional support can make a big difference when you’re feeling low.
You don’t need to give up your dreams just because of a chronic illness. By managing your health, finding ways to adjust your writing, and leaning on the people in your life for support, you might even find new inspiration and drive as you cope with your condition, and you can use that to find more fulfillment than ever in the words you put to paper.