When chronic conditions continually park you firmly on the sofa, your social stamina stalls and loneliness often creeps in, as your friend and even acquaintance circle starts to shrink considerably.
Early on you'll think "oh it's just temporary, and this sofa is really all I need right now, I don't want to make a fuss". But as this self imposed isolation persists, your emotional health and perspective suffers from a lack of human interaction.
Don’t surrender to solitude as the “new normal” whilst battling mobility restrictions because of some form of chronic illness or pain. Protect your mental health at all costs from the potential downward spiral of dealing with a health issue on your own.
Here are a few things to consider, they're not meant to be tips, but speaking from experience, more of a 'wish I'd done this myself type of thing'.
- Clearly Communicate Your Limitations: Don’t let friends/family guess why you're not responding to their calls and messages. Tactfully explain your challenges so they understand when you take rain checks or seem distracted. Facing up to health truths and clearly communicating them to others helps foster support. It's downright essential.
- Schedule In Sit-Down Visits: Invite your closest friends over and let them know exactly what's happening in your life, and why things have changed, you're the same person, just having a bit of a time of it at the moment.
- Get up, get Out: On lower-pain periods, get outside for a brief breath of fresh air and change of scenery. Go sit in a coffee shop and watch the nice humans, who knows, you may strike up a conversation that could change your life. Interactions affect your mood, you can only be human with other humans!
- Join Online Communities: If you really can't get out as you're that debilitated, then join a forum or group chat with people going through a similar experience as you. This is a good place to find reassurance through sharing struggles with fellow sufferers.
- Lost Distance Friends: No problemo, use Google Meet, Zoom or Facetime to have one to one conversations to sustain long-distance connections, these are vital for you to get a sense of perspective. You maybe thousands of miles away, but a reassuring chat, or seeing someone smile back could be the paincation you're looking for.
While rest and "sofa" days understandably still happen, it's important to balance them by feeding your relational and therefore emotional needs as vigorously as physical ones.
When all else fails, close your eyes, imagine yourself at your favourite holiday destination, the sound of the sea, the birds, the breeze, the feeling of the sun warming your body.
Did someone mention......yeah you guessed it👇