If you have a chronic illness, managing a business probably sounds like the last thing you want to do. After all, managing a business takes a lot of energy, which is something you don’t have if you are chronically ill. However, a new phenomenon is starting to emerge. More and more people who are chronically ill and cannot leave their home are starting and running very successful businesses. There are some who are achieving success in business without even leaving their bed!
Not too long ago, I had a chronic illness. I know what it’s like to have no energy and to always feel completely overwhelmed. The amazing thing is, starting a business was the final step in regaining energy and overcoming my illness!
While it is certainly not easy, here are some tips that helped me manage a business with a chronic illness. Please know that I am not a doctor, however, and these tips are just what I found helpful for myself.
1. Pace Yourself
Don’t try to do everything on your to-do list in one day. If you try to do everything at once, you’ll set yourself up for frustration and disappointment. Realize your limitations, and just work a little bit at a time every day. Slow and steady wins the race.
“Success is the sum of small efforts – repeated day in and day out,” Robert Collier
2. Get your rest
While this may sound intuitive, it’s been my experience that this is more difficult than it sounds. When exactly are you supposed to find the time to rest?
I recently looked over my old medical history records and found that I had been advised by my doctor to get more rest. The doctor even made a note that I had looked “leery” after she had given me this recommendation. I had three young children at home, and my husband was gone at work all day. When was I supposed to rest, exactly?
Getting more rest had just become one more uncompleted task on my to-do list, and ironically, the prescription of getting more rest just added to my stress and anxiety.
So get your rest when you can, but don’t beat yourself up if you’re not getting as much as you should be, either. Don’t let what is supposed to help you, end up harming you more. Just do the best you can!
3. Be humble enough to accept help when someone offers
It’s easy to feel bad about accepting help from others. It feels like you’re putting people out, or saying you’re incapable of taking care of things on your own. We’ve bought into the false ideal of “rugged individualism,” and that we shouldn’t want or receive help from others.
But we are supposed to help each other and bear one another’s burdens. It’s good for others to help you, and this season of life you are in won’t last forever. There will be a time when you will be able to give back to others…if they also have the humility to let you help them. Also, sometimes the help itself isn’t that helpful, but just the knowledge that someone cared enough to offer.
4. Eat healthfully
When you’re feeling poorly, it’s tempting to just grab what is quick and easy, even if it isn’t healthy, but that will just backfire. You’ll end up losing more time in the end from making yourself feel worse and delaying your recovery. You need to eat well to let your body heal itself.
5. Light and moderate exercise
If you over do it, it will set you back and make you worse. Do a minimum to moderate amount that won’t wear you out and set you back a couple days, even if it’s just a walk around the block. Don’t feel like you need to jump into it with a run or a heavy exercise video; that will just make things worse. The key is to do a light amount of exercise, in moderation. You can work up to doing more over time as you get healthier.
6. Get sunshine every day
Contrary to common belief, the sun is not your enemy! It is life-giving and health-boosting in so many ways…so long as you don’t overdo it and fry yourself. In fact, there is even such a thing called “Seasonal Affective Disorder” or “SAD” which usually occurs in winter when there is less sunlight. A couple symptoms are decreased energy and depression.
Get sunshine everyday if you can, as it helps keep your vitamin D levels up, and boosts your immunity, among many other benefits.
Living in Ohio where it is frequently cloudy, I sometimes had to resort to an LED blue light to mimic the light of the sun that I was missing.
7. Educate yourself
Most modern medicine has no answers for many of the chronic illnesses out there. You have to be your own best advocate for your health, because doctors won’t do it for you. If you can find an integrative or holistic doctor, that is great, but even so, be sure to educate yourself.
One book that really helped me with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome was From Fatigued to Fantastic.
8. Don’t forget music!
Music is a big mood booster. Putting on your favorite upbeat music can do wonders for boosting your energy levels. It puts you in a better mood, and a better mood actually will boost your immunity.
9. Choose a business you can get excited about
Don’t pick one just because your friend or family member is doing it. Pick a business that requires some creative thought on how to market it or grow the business and personalize it. Pick a business that makes you excited, and this will boost your mood, energy, and health.
10. Make sure you keep a healthy work/family balance
You may find you love your business so much that you neglect your family, kids, or home. Make sure not to let the fun of the business take over your life. Keep a balance.
11. Take every thought captive
Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 10:5 that we are to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. This means banishing pessimism and negativity, which are not part of a joyous life God wants for us.
Remember that your current situation won’t last forever. Back when I had my chronic illness, I thought that was the way my life would always be, but things changed.
Keep your mind focused on God and His kingdom all throughout the day. Scheduling a quiet time, while certainly helpful, can just become one more thing on your to-do list which causes stress. Maybe you don’t have time for a quiet time. You certainly don’t have time for more stress. However, being ill or busy does not prevent you from keeping God always in the front of your mind. Take your mind off yourself and your limitations and focus on God. Run away from self-pity!
12. Practice gratitude
Many chronically ill people are depressed, and the common advice given to those who are suffering is to be more joyful. Well, the reality is you can’t actually force yourself to be more joyful. You can’t just flip a switch. However, while you can’t make yourself more joyful, you CAN be more thankful, and practice gratitude. You can certainly write down or meditate on all the things you are thankful for every day, and give thanks to God for His abundant generosity.
And, by practicing gratitude and being thankful, you will find that a wonderful side-effect is joy! It’s hard not to be joyful when you are constantly focused on the many blessings of God. “Choosing Gratitude” by Nancy Leigh DeMoss and “One Thousand Gifts” by Ann Voskamp are both excellent resources for helping you develop a spirit of thanksgiving.
13. Always be looking for how you can be a blessing to others.
Even though you are chronically ill and confined to your house, you can still help others. By seeking to help others, you gain more energy and improve your mood. Maybe it’s just writing a letter or sending a kind email. When you have a business, you find that there are a multitude of other ways you can bless others as well.
Helping others gives you a purpose which will energize you and give you new life.
14. Refuse to feel sorry for yourself!
The very last thing you want to do is languish in bed feeling sorry for yourself. This will only harm your health, and make you feel worse. Self-pity is a downward spiral which won’t do you, or anyone else, any good. Reject it at all costs. Refuse to feel bad for yourself.
Instead, do whatever you can to take your thoughts captive, practice gratitude, and bless others.
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