So….for the past 10 weeks or so I have been living with the knowledge that I have a chronic condition…..osteoarthritis. Its due to ageing, having an above average BMI, maybe partly due to the stress of the house sale that still hasn’t been completed….and years of less than idea posture…in part due to previous back problems….that were also probably due to weight, posture, and stress! . Whatever the cause I am faced with a condition that is going to cause problems for the rest of my life How can mindfulness help in a situation like that?
Mindfulness techniques encourage you to be aware of your thoughts, physical sensations,, what is going on the present moment. How can this help in a situation with chronic illness?
Well if you are focussing on what is going on right now, you are not fretting about the past (why did I get this? Could I have done anything to avoid it) or worrying about the future. (how bad will it get, how much will it limit me, will I end up having surgery)
If you are focussing on your physical sensations, you can be very aware of when something causes pain or discomfort, what ‘normal’ discomfort is for you, so if it becomes abnormal you can act….because mindfulness awareness of sensations mean you will understand what makes them worse….or better.
As an aside It was the fact that have learned to become mindful of normal sensations that meant when I got the first twinge in my hip I knew it was something more than normal aches and pains for me …..and I got taken seriously when I saw a health professional even though the symptom was and still is relatively mild.
But the big thing mindfulness will help with is acceptance. I don’t want this problem…..but sometimes you just have to say ‘it is what it is’ Wasting energy on wishing I didn’t have OA, or pain, or discomfort is counter productive. My energy will be much better spent on taking the steps I can to limit its effects on me.
Along wit acceptance goes compassion..important for those days when I cope less well.
We are all normally compassionate wen we see someone else in trouble…..so being compassionate to ourselves when WE are in trouble makes sense to me…and that is probably one of the biggest way mindfulness can help.