When you’re diagnosed with an illness, especially a chronic one, you’re likely to experience a mix of emotions. Many people feel some sense of relief with a diagnosis because they finally understand what’s happening with their body. But then, there’s the inevitable feeling of hopelessness.
Even if you suspected something was wrong, there’s no denying it now. At the moment when your doctor utters those words, your life has forever changed.
It’s a lot for any person to handle, but we constantly hear stories of people with illnesses overcoming the odds and living life in their favor. You can be one of them, but you first must change your mindset.
If you want to accomplish anything positive, you must adopt a positive outlook. This is non-negotiable.
Here are 5 ways to stay positive when diagnosed with an illness:
- Get informed
You may have heard that knowledge is power. That has never been truer than when it relates to a medical diagnosis. It may seem scary at first, but the more you know about your illness, the more you can control it.
Start by asking your doctor any questions that may be on your mind. Most doctors answer emails, so you can try this route instead of waiting until your next appointment.
Next, hit the innerwebs. It’s crucial that avoid any sources that aren’t reputable. If you’re having trouble making this distinction, stick with official sites like the CDC or non-profit organizations set up to support your specific illness. You’ll find a wealth of information here.
- Manage your expectations
Now that you know you have this illness, think about how your life will change. This isn’t a sad moment. It’s all about the facts. How will your 3-year plan change?
Should you expect bad days where you can’t get out bed? If so, how will you handle them?
This planning phase isn’t fun, but it’s crucial. When you have a plan for your worst-case scenarios, you won’t be blindsided when they happen.
- Practice patience
It may take you longer to do things than it used to. You may not have the same physical capabilities. So, if you feel yourself getting frustrated, stop and take a deep breath. Would you get frustrated with someone else in your position? The answer to that question is probably no. We’re often harder on ourselves than we would ever be on others. Try to practice patience with yourself at all times.
- Explore alternatives
If you aren’t happy with your current treatment plan, or if you think there may be better options out there, explore alternative treatment options. Alternative treatments can vary significantly based on the illness, but you should be able to find some opportunities. Look for treatments that have some evidence-based support, like studies published in peer-reviewed journals. Once you’ve collected enough information and feel like you have a good understanding of the treatment, talk to your doctor. This should be the right place to weigh the pros and cons and come to a decision on your best course of action.
- Practice gratitude
You may not want to hear the well-meaning advice that “things could be worse,” so instead, let’s look on the flipside: Gratitude. Saying things could be worse implies that you’re comparing yourself with someone else (someone who has it worse). And that’s part of the problem. Whenever you’re feeling down, it’s probably because you were comparing yourself with someone who has it better than you. So, comparing isn’t the answer. Instead, focus on all the things in your life that bring you joy.
To take it a step further, start keeping a daily gratitude journal. Write down things that you’re happy about or grateful for. This will help shift your thoughts from negative to positive. And the more you practice gratitude, the better it will get.
When you’re living with an illness, you’ll have good days and bad ones. It just comes with the territory. But when you shift your mindset from negative to positive, your bad days will seem fewer and farther between. Try these five tips to stay positive after you’ve been diagnosed with an illness.