If you are faced with autoimmune disease, you may experience some common emotional/mental struggles.
These could include feeling alone, experiencing a loss of identity, or anxiety related to treatments and financial strain.
Resilience is a set of skills that gives us the ability to withstand stress and adversity.
Here are six behaviors that shape resilience:
1. Maintaining a positive self-image. You may experience a change in the way you view yourself. You may have previously identified as a healthy person, an athlete, a successful or strong person. Autoimmune disease doesn't have to change your self identity. You can be an athlete with autoimmune disease. You can be a successful, strong person with autoimmune disease. Your disease is apart of you, but it does not have to define you.
2. Managing emotions and impulses. It's not easy to have a chronic illness. The emotional impact of having an illness that doesn't go away can be devastating. It's important to know that you can experience negative emotion in a healthy way. Feel your emotions, process them, and then move forward in a proactive manner.
3. Taking charge of things in your control. Autoimmune disease can make you feel like nothing is in your control. Your body is literally attacking itself. Feeling out of control reinforces the "fight or flight" mindset, increasing your inflammation and stress. Make a list of what you can control in your health and your life and act on those things.
4. Establishing healthy versus harmful coping strategies. Autoimmune disease can bring additional stress into your life and many people rely on unhealthy coping strategies such as inflammatory foods and/or alcohol. Plan healthy coping strategies ahead of time so you can use them when you need to. Examples include prayer, meditation, journaling, walking, and coaching!
5. Investing in close relationships. It's normal to feel overwhelmed at times and we all need a strong support system to help us get through the difficult times in life. Focus on the people close to you. Reach out to talk or ask for help. It's also important to remember to give to others.
6. Finding positive meaning in life events. Autoimmune disease can bring some positive aspects into your life. This could be meeting and forming a bond with someone who has your diagnosis or seeing other health benefits with your non-inflammatory diet. Look for and take time to appreciate these positive results.
Resiliency is a skill that is developed and practiced. No one is born with resiliency. Practicing these skills will help you develop mental and emotional strength through all of the trials that you face in life.