5 tips for finding motivation, even with chronic illness

It’s one of those high pain, low energy days and you just can’t motivate yourself to do much of anything. You feel the weight of your illness crashing down on you and you just want to hide from everything and everyone, so what do you do? If you’re like me sometimes you let the weight crush you and sometimes you struggle and fight to keep your illness from defeating you. But how do you fight it? It’s not that you don’t want to be motivated, you just feel overwhelmed and all the motivational quotes in the world can’t pull you out from underneath that weight.

she was unstoppable. Not because she didn't have failures or doubts, but because she carried on despite them

  1. Focus on one thing at a time

Sometimes I let myself become too overwhelmed by the long list of things I have to do. So I tell myself I just need to get ready for the day and I’ll see where it takes me. I don’t even think about the next task until I complete the first one. Once I’m ready I’ll tackle the next step and then the next. More often than not I don’t make it through every step, but at least I’m able to get myself going.

2. Go outside

If you can’t motivate yourself to do much of anything, try going outside. Research says that spending just 20 minutes a day outside in the sun can improve your mood. Even if you can only muster the energy to sit in a chair, there’s a good chance it will help. I have a hammock that I can lay in for a few minutes at a time, even if the weather is miserably hot like it usually is in my climate. If you live in a cold climate consider getting a sun lamp (aff link)  to help simulate the sun. Having grown up in a sunless climate and moved to a tropical climate as an adult, I can testify to the huge difference that the sun can make on your mood.

3. Set small goals

When I’m really sick I make it a goal to spend ten minutes of my day cleaning and that’s it. I don’t let myself think about anything else that needs to be cleaned, I try to meet my goal and that’s all I need to focus on. Once I achieve that goal I usually feel better about myself and what I was able to accomplish.

Make sure to set goals that you know you are capable of accomplishing. If you set your goals too high you’ll feel worse when you can’t meet them. If you meet your goals and are still feeling motivated you can always raise the bar.

4. Practice self compassion

Don’t beat yourself up for being “useless” or “lazy.” Having a chronic illness does not mean you are any of those things, and if you beat yourself up for things outside your control you will feel paralyzed. Shame has never motivated anyone to do anything, but compassion does.

This is a moment of suffering. Suffering is a part of life. May I be kind to myself in this moment. May I give myself the compassion I need


5. Resolve to try again tomorrow

Some days you are just going to be discouraged. Some days your illness is going to take over no matter how much you fight it. Sometimes you want to scream “this sucks and life is not far.” That’s okay. Allow yourself to rage at the unfairness of it all and remember that you can try again tomorrow. Maybe you won’t feel better physically, but you might feel stronger emotionally.

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