3 Ways to Cope with Isolation in this Unique Holiday Season

The end of 2020 is shaping up to be a difficult one for many of us, even though we’re seeing light at the end of the tunnel with the vaccines beginning to be distributed. Still, these next few weeks, many of us will be facing isolation and loneliness due to the need to stay safe during the Covid-19 pandemic.

I thought I’d offer three tools to help alleviate the emotional pain of being isolated from others at Hanukkah or Christmas (or whatever winter holiday you celebrate). …


Creating a Fulfilling Life for Your Chronically Ill Child

I’m delighted to share this guest post by Wendy Kahn. She is the mother of a chronically ill teenager. Her son’s multiple conditions make him a bit of a “medical mystery.” Dealing with this for many years, Wendy has learned creative ways to deal with daily life, solve problems, and create a little normalcy — while never giving up hope. She shares her experiences and thoughts at BrewingMoreHope.com. Here is her piece:

When children feel healthy, there are so many activities and events they can plan or attend. However, if they are chronically ill and can’t count on their bodies from day-to-day or even moment-to-moment, it’s a whole different world, with a new set of rules. …


6 Ways to Handle the Stigma of Chronic Pain and Illness

(Preliminary note: I’ll be using the phrase chronic illness in this piece; it includes chronic pain.)

Let me start with the dictionary definition of stigma: A mark of disgrace associated with a particular circumstance, quality, or person.

Those are strong words. Why would chronic illness be a mark of disgrace? Three reasons come to mind. First, this culture does a poor job of educating people about chronic illness. It’s seen as an aberration instead of what it is: a natural aspect of the human condition. …


What to Do When Life Takes an Unexpected Turn — As It Just Has

I’ll start with this quotation from spiritual teacher Alan Watts: “The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.”

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We’re in the midst of a change in our lives that’s so profound, none of us could have imagined it a year ago. So, yes, life isn’t going our way. But when you think about your life, have your plans ever worked out exactly as you’d hoped without unexpected changes or complications? …


10 Challenges Faced by Those with Chronic Pain and Illness

I’m writing this piece partly to celebrate the release of my new book, How to Be Sick: Your Pocket Companion, and partly, as always, to try and help my readers. I thought I would share the challenges that the book covers, adding some comments as I go.

When my publisher asked me to prepare what we initially called a pocket edition of my first book, How to Be Sick, I thought: “This will be easy. I’ll just edit down the text of the big book.” That turned out to be a gross miscalculation because a pocket-sized book requires a different approach! I needed to complete a thought, a suggestion, or a practice on one small page. In short, I wound up writing a new book. …


19 Tips from 19 Years Sick

When I began to write for Psychology Today over nine years ago, one of the first articles I posted was called “10 Tips from 10 Years Sick.” It’s nine years later. A lot has happened in my life, but there’s been one constant: chronic illness (which includes chronic pain). Because 10 + 9 = 19, it’s time for “19 Tips from 19 Years Sick.”

#1: Don’t underestimate the effect of sheltering-in-place on your symptoms.

I’ve read about people who are enjoying sheltering-in-place. (Mostly, these are people who are not working, either from home or otherwise; nor do they suddenly have children at home instead of in school). They love having empty calendars. They’re finishing projects they’ve been putting off. …


Be Your Own Best Friend by Changing Your Negative Self-Talk

Most of us are quite adept at talking to ourselves. We tend to have an internal dialogue going on all the time. Unfortunately, more often than not, that dialogue is dominated by negative self-talk — what’s often called the inner critic.

In our self-talk, we are harder on ourselves than we are on others. This comes from habits developed in childhood, when we might have repeatedly been told that we should always be on top of things; we should always have control of our moods; nothing less than perfect will do. …


6 Suggestions for Making the Most of “Sheltering in Place”

I’m aware that this piece won’t apply in full to everyone. I’m deeply grateful to medical and other essential workers who are continuing to take care of our needs at great risk to themselves. I’m also aware that many people are working from home or taking care of children or others, and so much of their day is taken up with have-to’s. …


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I’ll start with a word that’s becoming increasingly familiar: mindfulness. Mindfulness refers to bringing your attention to your present moment experience, whether it’s something in your environment, or a thought, or an emotion. For me, its greatest value is that it helps me become aware of what’s going on in my mind. That awareness can allow me to see why I’m feeling down and, just knowing that, can start to make me feel better. That said, mindfulness is not a cure-all for feeling down. …


5 Stages Experienced by Those with Chronic Illness

I’ve been chronically ill for over 18 years (chronic illness includes chronic pain). In 2001, I came down with what appeared to be an acute viral infection but I never recovered. It compromised my immune system, leaving me feeling as if I have the flu 24/7. I call it the flu without the fever.

Not everyone will go through these stages in the same way or in the same order that I have, but I’m confident that this piece will sound familiar, both to those who are chronically ill and to those who care for them (if the former are fortunate enough to have the latter — I recognize that not everyone is). …

About

Toni Bernhard

Toni Bernhard is the author of “How to Be Sick,” “How to Wake Up,” and “How to Live Well with Chronic Pain and Illness.”

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