5 Self-Care Activities to Help You Regain the Self-Love That You Did Not Realize Your Chronic Illness had Stolen

selfcare activites to regain self-love stolen from chronicillness

Self-love is defined as a regard for one’s own well-being and happiness. Even the Bible tells us to love our neighbors as ourselves. Yet, so many of us who live with one or more chronic illnesses fail to love ourselves the same way we do others. In fact, we often treat ourselves worse than how we are treated by our enemies.

Without realizing it, our chronic illnesses have stolen our self-love. Pain and debilitating symptoms from chronic diseases such as fibromyalgia, psoriatic arthritis, etc. often replace the love we once had for ourselves with disgust and loathing.

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“love your neighbor as yourself”

Mark 12:31

Here are five suggestions for regaining the love you used to have for yourself. They may be used as journal prompts or as a mental activity to kickstart your day. I suggest choosing one per day and repeat as necessary until recognizing why you deserve to love yourself occurs without a prompt.

5 Self-Care Activities to Help You Regain the Self-Love That You Didn't Realize Your Chronic Illness had Stolen

1) Give thanks for what your body CAN do

Is it any wonder that we struggle to be thankful for what we can do when we spend so much time explaining what we cannot? Our doctors don’t see us for areas we are thriving in, they see us in order to improve the things that aren’t working like they should.

I am in no way suggesting that we never think about how our bodies are failing to perform. While it is important that we track and share this information with our physicians, it of equal importance to remind ourselves of what our bodies are capable of.


Self-Love Activity/Journal Prompt

Give thanks for something your body CAN do.

Don’t worry about making a list, just choose ONE!

It took me a long time not to only see what my body couldn’t do. #fibromyalgia #arthritis #psoriasis #chronicillness #chronicpain #selflove #selfcare

Examples may include but are not limited to having the ability to:

  • Maintain mobility within your home
  • Perform a favorite hobby
  • Walk, stand, or sit
  • Stretch to maintain muscle health or exercise
  • Hold a phone, type on computer or tablet
  • Read
Living with a chronic illness is not an easy feat. It can be frustrating, overwhelming, and sometimes downright unbearable. It can be lonely and isolating, with people often not understanding what you're going through. But amidst this struggle, there is something that can help you remember the strength that lies within you. Enter Strength in Struggle: 100 Affirmation Cards for People with Chronic Illness.

2) Name three ways you plan to express self-love today

It’s perfectly normal to start your day thinking about what you have planned. However, if those plans fail to include how to care for your chronic body, you’re likely to fail at succeeding with your other plans. Even if you manage to accomplish what you set out to, the odds are without a self-care plan involved your day will end with unmanageable pain.

Thinking only of feeding your family, being on time for a doctor’s appointment, or checking off a few boxes on your to-do list ignites anxiousness and self-doubt. Self-care is more than bubble baths or treating yourself, it is about showing your body compassion and finding ways of doing things that won’t cause harm or trigger a flare.


Self-Love Activity/Journal Prompt

Write down three ways that you plan to practice self-love today. If not used as a journal prompt, make a note of them on your phone or post sticky notes somewhere you will see them throughout your day. At the end of the day, refer back to your list and congratulate yourself for following through on what you set out to do.

Related Reading: Chronic Illness Journaling

Self-love ideas that will improve your day and help accomplish your regular to-do list may include but are not limited to:

  • Asking for and accepting assistance
  • Drinking water
  • Allowing for periods of rest
  • Avoiding trigger foods
  • Having your groceries delivered
  • Not stressing about things that are out of your control

3) List your selling points

Let’s pretend that I recommended you for a job. What are the first things to come to mind? Would you quickly point out all the reasons you are not a fit and couldn’t perform the task? Or would you excitedly list your talents and skills before asking for time to think about whether you want to accept or not?

It would be of no surprise if you automatically did the first. In addition to having to list how our chronic illness has made it difficult to perform basic tasks for our doctors, we live with the loss of abilities every day! Not allowing all of these losses change how we think is not as easy as not thinking about them. In fact, that would be foolish. Acknowledging what we are unable to do is what helps us know when to take precautions or modify our activities. The key is to not permit the loss we have experienced to become what defines us.

You are amazing.
You’re brave.
You are strong.


Self-Love Activity/Journal Prompt

Pretend you are a product and promote yourself! For example, you wouldn’t consider buying a car that was advertised as rusty and often backfires. But if I told you that the car was comfortable and had heated seats, you’d want more information.

Your selling points may include, but are not be limited to the following:

  • Loyalty
  • Analytical
  • Creative
  • Persistent
  • Determined
  • Any skills that you are still able to perform

4) Create a self-love plan for the day that won’t aggravate your chronic illness

When is the last time you scheduled or allowed for self-love, otherwise known as a “treat yourself” kind of day? Did you end the day feeling relaxed and/or refreshed? Or was your body is screaming with pain?

Too often the plans we make with the intention of doing something good for ourselves end in disaster. Why is that? It’s often caused by choosing activities that our minds want to do, but that our bodies aren’t capable of.


Self-Love Activity/Journal Prompt

Plan a self-care day that is suited to your body and chronic illnesses. For example, if spending a day at the beach walking on the shore, shopping on the boardwalk, and dining on the pier is more than your body can tolerate, modify your plan. Instead of making it an all-day affair, limit yourself to one activity.

Ask yourself what is most important. Is it shopping, eating out, or being near the water? A less exhausting option would be to pack a picnic lunch or grab takeout on the way to the beach and enjoy your meal while sitting on the sand, listening to the waves crash, and watching the sunset.

Be sure to write down in detail all the modifications and precautions you should take to end the day with as little pain as possible. Then set a date and go for it! Afterward, note your results. How did your self-care day end? Did it leave you feeling emotionally and physically refreshed? If not, think about what other changes could be made to perfect it.

Examples of self-love days include but are not limited to:

  • Spending time at your favorite location
  • A day of rest and relaxation
  • A shopping spree (online or in-store)
  • A spa day
  • Time spent with family and/or friends

Remember that not all self-love days require leaving home. You can spend a day reading or bingeing a series on Netflix or, better yet, watching nothing but Disney classic movies on DisneyPlus.

Here are 28 more self-care ideas!

Share your favorite form of self-care in the comments below.

5) Take a look at your beauty

What do you see when you look in a mirror? Do you notice your beauty or is it clouded by pain?

It is not unusual for pain to distort how we view ourselves. We become conditioned to believe that pain and beauty are incompatible. But they aren’t, because real beauty is more than skin deep. Real beauty lies deep inside of you. It’s a heart that cares, ears that listen, eyes that glimmer, a smile that expresses joy, and hands that help.

Loving yourself isn’t vanity. It is sanity. #selflove #selfcare #chroniclife #fibromyalgia #arthritis #psoriasis


Self-Love Activity/Journal Prompt

This activity isn’t a one-time event. It may take days, weeks, or months until you can complete it with full confidence in your beauty. With that said, your challenge is to sit in front of a mirror, look yourself in the eye, then verbally list what makes you a beautiful person.

The purpose of this exercise is to look past what your chronic illness has done to you physically and to prevent it from taking away your most important assets.

Your beauty may come from but is not limited to:

  • Compassion
  • Intelligence
  • Patience
  • Attitude
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Wrap it up!

It’s unrealistic to believe that our chronic illnesses won’t change our physical and emotional behaviors. However, when we make a diligent effort to prevent it from destroying our self-love, our odds of enjoying life increase tenfold. Are you ready to regain the self-love that your chronic illness stole?

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5 Self-Care Activities to Help You Regain the Self-Love That You Didn't Realize Your Chronic Illness had Stolen

Published by Cynthia Covert

Diagnosed in 2001 with psoriasis, followed by fibromyalgia, psoriatic arthritis, endometriosis, and later a botched hysterectomy turned her world upside down. Cynthia shares her experience, advice, and tips for how to make life with chronic pain easier and less painful.

6 thoughts on “5 Self-Care Activities to Help You Regain the Self-Love That You Did Not Realize Your Chronic Illness had Stolen

  1. What an outstanding post Cynthia! You’re so right – our chronic illness can steal our self-love. Learning to love ourselves again helps us make our self-care a priority, because we take care of those we love. Thanks for some much-needed reminders!

  2. I really love this post, Cynthia. Self-love is so important. We seem to be so eager to knock ourselves down at times and notice all the negative stuff. I dish out this advice to other people, but forget to take it on board myself sometimes. So, thank you…I needed to read this. I’m going to think of my selling points x

  3. I LOVE this post! Shared it on Twitter earlier but just came back to comment. I think self-care can be so under appreciated and you’re right with how much can be clouded by chronic pain and the parts of ourselves that get lost with chronic illness, too. You’ve made great suggestions for self-care that goes beyond the basics and the surface stuff like bubble baths. As for listing our selling points and noting our beauty, I didn’t realise just how hard those are. I literally can’t seem to think of anything! I know I’ve been so busy distracting myself lately with keeping being and doing to-do lists that self-care has slipped way down the priority list, so I need to focus on that more soon. Fab post lovely.

    Caz xx

    1. Thank you for your kind words! Listing selling points and noting our beauty are tough. I too have days when I am unable to think of any myself. Hopefully, with practice we’ll both improve!

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