A lot is going on all around you. Between work, kids (maybe) and home, friends and events, it can be difficult. Throw in chronic illness, and it feels like the world never stops spinning. You are not alone in this. Life with hidradenitis suppurativa can be good!
Research has shown that there is a link between perceived business and stress. Psychologically feeling in control helps prevent depression and anxiety. And feeling out of control is bad for your heart health. Stress can cause issues with blood pressure and increase inflammation.
Feeling out of control stems from feeling overwhelmed. You may feel you don’t have a choice over your days. You may also feel like HS decides what you can and can’t do. But that’s not true. While it may seem impossible, you can take back the reigns. Here are five ways to feel more control of your life.
It’s easy to get lost in all the things you must do in a day. And personal time can get sacrificed in the name of productivity. My advice is to make time for things you enjoy every day. Self-care is about making sure your own needs are met.
Downtime helps you recharge so you can do all that you have to. Your hobby or favourite TV show may not seem important in the grand scheme of things. But making time for those things you enjoy is what working hard is all about.
One way to feel like you have control of your life is to keep an eye to the future. Figure out what you want, big and small and take steps toward achieving them. Goals don’t have to be mountain size, but they do have to be specific and attainable.
Some examples are to have a date night with your significant other once a week. Or save a certain amount of money a month. It doesn’t matter what it is so long as it makes your life better. If you want to know more about setting goals, read our post on building habits here.
Ask for Help
This is one of the hardest things to do. You probably feel that if you can’t do it by yourself, you don’t have it under control. And you don’t want people to think you are a burden.
The truth is they won’t think that. Everyone needs help sometimes. And being able to ask for it is a strength, not a weakness. Being able to ask for help, and knowing you will have it is empowering. Once you let go of the idea of being superhuman, you will feel less alone.
Help Others to manage their life with hidradenitis suppurativa
While we are on the topic of help, repay the favour. Helping others is the gold standard of problem-solving. And it can help you feel in control because you realise you know more than you think. Also, when you help others, they help you. It’s called cooperation. And it’s what makes humans so successful as a species.
Nobody should feel alone with a problem. So, part of being able to ask for help is creating a safe space for others to reciprocate. That is something that’s in all our power to do.
Maintain an Organised Routine
Disorganisation leads to feeling overwhelmed. Maintaining a routine make problems less likely to sneak up on you. You may already have a disorganised routine. With a few tweaks, you can make it work for you rather than against.
Take a morning routine. Lots of people’s mornings are chaos. Try to prepare a little the night before. Lay out your clothes and pack what you need for work—that way when you wake-up, you’re not in a rush.
Applying These Strategies to Life with Hidradenitis Suppurativa
Having a chronic illness is out of your control. But managing it is not. All five of the above strategies can be applied to how you manage your HS.
Firstly, prioritise yourself. When you are unwell, rest. Don’t go to work sick and make sure you attend any medical appointments you have. There is always time to look after your health.
Set goals for yourself. For example, exercise is good for you but difficult when you have a flare-up. So, aim to do light yoga or go for a walk, three times a week. If you need help, ask for advice from the HS community online. The best way to learn is from each other. And soon you will find others have questions, you can answer.
Lastly, have a routine that promotes health and another for managing flare-ups. Know what you will do when you are unwell and keep a kit with things you will need close by. Plan your meals, so they are nutritious and make sure you get enough sleep. All of this will help you heal.
Having agency over your life is about knowing what keeps you well and doing it. The good news is you already know what’s right for you. Most of the time, we are all standing in our own way.
So, next time you think you are about to snap, imagine what will make your life better? You’ve got this
About the Author
Shannon Sweeney is a psychology and sociology student from Ireland. She is also living with HS and has a keen interest in lifestyle, wellbeing and hidradenitis suppurativa