Staying body-positive in the face of our image-obsessed culture can be challenging enough, but when you add illness into the mix, holding onto those “BoPo” vibes becomes a lot more difficult. Perhaps you feel frustrated at your body’s limitations, or maybe your image is changing because of a long-term condition; alternatively, you may have felt fantastic until a common illness knocked you off your A-game, and now you’re struggling to regain your self-esteem. Well, fear not – here are some tips for staying body positive and showing yourself some love, even when you’re sick.
Catching a cold or coming down with flu isn’t the end of the world, but being confined indoors and feeling physically unwell can wreak havoc on your mental health. As we know, our bodies and minds are closely intertwined, and for many people, getting sick can trigger depressive episodes and cause feelings of low self-esteem.
If you’re sick and you feel down about your body, the best thing you can do is to make self-care your number one priority. Nourish yourself with plenty of fluids and eat what you can, and make sure you keep up with your regular medications and vitamins unless your doctor advises otherwise. If you can get out at all, know that even a short burst of fresh air and natural light will help brighten your mood and could also speed up your recovery, but don’t feel bad if you can’t get out of bed. Sometimes, our bodies just need to rest.
A long-term or terminal illness is likely to have a profound effect on your appearance as well as your mental health, so it’s important to seek professional advice to help you with your diagnosis. Surround yourself with loved ones, and don’t give up on those things that once made you feel great if you can help it.
Keep in touch with friends and people who build you up, even if it’s just on social media, and look out for an online community where you can share your journey with others facing the same illness. Cancers like Mesothelioma (a particularly aggressive form that is mostly incurable) can come out of the blue and can rock your mental and physical foundations. So, if you or a loved one is dealing with this illness, please seek help and advice from an organization like MesotheliomaHelp.org.
Conditions like chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and fibromyalgia are on the rise, and although doctors don’t know exactly what causes them, these illnesses have been linked to depression and stress. If you have a chronic illness, there are many reasons why you might not be feeling 100 percent body-positive right now: social withdrawal, exhaustion, frustration at your physical limitations, lack of exercise – the list goes on. However, you’re not choosing to feel this way, so don’t beat yourself up. Think about how you would care for a friend who was sick and afford yourself the same treatment.
Your body is an amazing vessel, and it knows when it’s time to quit. No one’s saying that living with any illness is easy, but for now, at least, it is your reality so don’t try and fight it. Practice mindfulness, meditation, yoga, or any other activities that help you deal with your symptoms, and watch films or read books that make you feel good about yourself.