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How to Have a Healthy Relationship with Your Body (Even with Chronic Illness)

How to Have a Healthy Relationship with Your Body, Even with Chronic Illness | A Chronic Voicee

I’m sure you’ve noticed the commodities of love mushrooming around us at an alarming speed. Yes, Valentine’s Day is coming right up 😉 Amidst all the expressions of romantic love, I’d like to take some time to honour the bond I have with my body. It’s after all, the most intimate relationship I’ll ever have.

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Honour the Bond with Your Body

Loving Our Bodies on a Daily Basis

Relationships require a great deal of effort, whether they’re romantic or not. They need time and attention in order to thrive, and to take root beneath the superficial. Our bodies are a relationship destined by birth, and not one we can separate from as and when we please. Like it or not, we need to learn to get along with it. Over time, you may even realise how much it wants to make you happy, as opposed to being the abusive bitch you thought it was.

There are many things we can do to love our bodies on a daily basis. These are often inconspicuous acts that don’t seem like much, but add up over time. Respect its limits, and listen to it with an open and empathetic mind. This is an important factor for any healthy relationship, and is no different with your body. Treat it with compassion, and watch the relationship grow stronger than ever before.

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Respect Your Body's Limits
Treat Your Body with Compassion

Finding New Ways to Love Our Bodies

It’s difficult to love your body when it’s flawed, and wrecked with constant pain. But I’ve also come to appreciate the imperfections, for they are marks that set you and me apart. It can be frustrating when my body doesn’t go along with my plans, but compromises are the cornerstone of progress. These constant face-offs can be a drag, but I also get to pick up the most important life lessons at a younger age. I am forced to confront uncomfortable topics which society can choose to ignore. As a result, I become intimate with the elements of life, and learn how to navigate across its fierce ocean.

Your ideas of love will differ from mine, and there are a million and one ways to express them. So go ahead and unleash your creativity, but never leave sincerity out of the equation. No matter the state of your health, find that special rhythm with it. Speed isn’t of essence here; learn how to connect with your body, such that the dance through life is an enjoyable one.

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Loving My Flawed Body
Compromises are the Cornerstone of Progress
Ideas of Love
Connect with Your Body

An Intimacy Like No Other

If there’s one thing I’ve become with my body due to illness, it is intimate. Many healthy people aren’t fully aware of changes happening within themselves, but I’ve gained a heightened sensitivity to it. This isn’t always pleasant, like a tooth with its nerves exposed, but it does provide crucial feedback. I am familiar with every nook and cranny of my broken body, and ‘gross’ functions no longer perturb me. In fact, I’m amazed by how much knowledge our blood and poop contains, and the process to produce them is pure art. In that sense, my body is the artist, and I am its medium.

I am comfortable with my scars and bruises, lumps and bumps; almost proud of them, in fact. Each one represents an event or milestone of healing or survival; each one owns a piece of my life story. Go ahead and look at them all you want – you have some of them yourself.

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Scars are Stories of Survival

Commitment to Being a Better Partner

Whatever it is and as grim as it may sound, we have no choice but to make things work between us. The prize for clear communication, careful compromise, kindness and love, is a deeper understanding of who we are as a person. There will be days where we fail, but we can try to commit ourselves to being a better partner every day. In that way, we can live a rich and full life, no matter the length or circumstance.

Live well and love much, my friends. Oh, and Happy Valentine’s Day! 😉

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A Deeper Understanding of Who We are as a Person
Commitment to Being a Better Partner to Ourselves

*Note: This article is meant for educational purposes and is based on the author’s personal experiences. It is not to be substituted for medical advice. Please consult your own doctor before changing or adding any new treatment protocols.

Read More: Would You Date a Person with Chronic Illness?

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How to Have a Healthy Relationship with Your Body (Even with Chronic Illness)

How to Have a Healthy Relationship with Your Body (Even with Chronic Illness)

How to Have a Healthy Relationship with Your Body (Even with Chronic Illness)

60 comments

  • I just had an “aaawww” moment with my body when I read “Over time, you may even realise how much it wants to make you happy, as opposed to being the abusive bitch you thought it was.”

    There was a time when it was me vs my body but that thought process didn’t work to benefit me in any way and now we’re a team! We love what we have and we’re in this through the thick and thin.

    I don’t know if I have ever mentioned this before but I absolutely love your style of writing. You mange to invoke so many feelings with the way you write. While reading this post, I suddenly reconnected with my body. Loved it.

    Thank you Sheryl. 🙂

    • Aww…thanks as well Shruti for your encouraging, kind words! I’m so happy that my writing connected with you!! 😀 Yes I think in the long run, fighting against ourselves is just plain exhausting and pointless. To live well, we need to work with ourselves 🙂

  • Really great post Sheryl. I always try and focus on all the things my body can do, rather than what it does to annoy me! I guess that comes back to gratitude, which seems so important with chronic illness.

    • Hi Claire, yes I think so, too 🙂 Maybe for me the word is more of ‘awe’ than gratitude. Kind of like I’m thunderstruck when I realise that little bit of what it actually is doing for me 🙂

  • I firmly believe we need to have a little self-compassion for our embodied selves.

  • I love this Sheryl. I have spent most of my life at war with my body due to eating disorders. It wasn’t until my body failed and became riddled with pain, that I learned to respect it – I’m still working on the loving it part.

    • Hi Jo, I totally know what you mean. I swore I’d ‘fight the disease’ til death as a 14 year old. Over the years, I’ve learned so much about how much my body really isn’t the enemy 🙂 It’s even gained a newfound respect, despite the pain. Sending well wishes to you and hope you have a low pain day…year!!

  • Love this! These are all such important reminders!

  • Hope it works out for you Sheryl, and thanks for sharing this article – body and mind is the most important things in life, rest are just details.

  • If I’m guilty of anything right now, it would be not loving my body enough. Although, it’s not entirely my fault. It’s because my body seems to have a mind of it’s own and hardly pay attention to me anymore.
    The scars, I’ve acceped, the pain is harder. How can you love a body that doesn’t allow you to live your life in ways that bring you happiness and fulfilment?

    • Hi Olufunke, it’s okay to be unhappy or angry with your body for now…it’s a long process that took me 20 years to understand and accept, too. It’s difficult to explain, but it was a realisation that we needed to try and work together in order to get the best out of life. I wish you all the best on your personal journey, but take your time x

      • And also just to add. We should teach our minds how to respect our bodies.
        Love your content from the first moment i saw it . Great stuff. Keep it up

        • Thanks so much for your kind words, Christine 🙂 Yes, you make a really good point! Our minds can be deceptive too.

  • Great stuff, I think we need to consider this kind of stuff now more than ever!

  • It’s so important to love your body and get to know it. Sometimes we forget how important our body is x

  • I’m still working on it but I decided a few years ago I was going to take time to love me, body and all, and put me first. This post really hits home

    • I am glad you’re taking the time and effort to do it, however slowly you may think that goes. It will be worth it x

  • It’s so important to love and know your own body. I feel so many times we don’t take care of it as we should. I try to be more healthy this year x

    • Yes when everything feels okay, we often barely think about or care for our bodies. They do really work so hard for us without us even knowing! I wish you well on you health journey this year! x

  • Love how you write about becoming more intimate with your body. Knowing it and it’s limitations. One thing I’m sure is how much we take for granted when we are healthy. I remember pulling a muscle in my neck one time and I was bed ridden for several days, couldn’t even move. My husband had to even carry me to the bathroom. If it wasn’t for such instances, I wouldn’t appreciate my body when it is healthy. Thanks for the reminder.

    • Most welcome Margaret, I hope it’s a good reminder for us all, whether we’re ill or healthy alike 🙂 Yes it can feel dreadful when you can’t even go to the bathroom on your own – I had that experience once in the hospital where I couldn’t move at all for two months and it was pure torture. So thank you body, for all that you do. I am amazed at your resilience and in awe of what you can do 🙂

  • Wonderful post and a fantastic reminder to all. It has taken a long time to have a healthy relationship with my own self. I now love all of me. I love having reminders to continue growing and learning and accepting myself.

    • Thanks Jody, and I love how you love all of you now! Must have been quite the journey 🙂 And yes, constant reminders are still needed, at least for me! 🙂

  • I love the body positive approach to honouring the bond with your body. That’s beautiful, and a message that needs to be widely appreciated. Thanks for this lovely post.

    • Thank you Chelsea, I do genuinely believe it’s a precious, intimate bond and that our body works really hard to keep us in balance and happy. The least I can do is to honour it a little 🙂

  • Sheryl,
    Thank you for sharing this with us all in a very gentle, yet vivid way.
    I love how you put it, ‘Commitment to Being a Better Partner,’ while speaking about your body. Our bodies are indeed magical and full of wonder. And all this magic reveals to us when we become so much more attuned to them.

    • Thank you so much, I truly believe it’s a relationship with our bodies, and one that must be treated with the very best we’ve got in every way we can! 🙂

  • Great reminder to love ourselves or our body. Sometimes we don’t appreciate our physical appearance because society dictates a different standard when it comes to beauty. We should define our own.

  • This is such a nice and very insightful post to read. I have a lot of flaws and I hated my body because of that but my family helping me to realized that I need to learn to accept and love my flaws for me to start loving my body again. And now, even I am gaining weight because of giving birth I still love my body because I knew that I have a husband and a family that strongly supporting now matter what happen and no matter what I look.

    • That’s a lovely way to look at it, Gervin. I am glad that you have supportive and loving family and resources to help you along your journey. Sending good thoughts and well wishes!

  • Excellent post. No one is truly happy about each piece of there body, however, it is how God made us and someone will love us for it.

    • Thanks Dana. It’s true, as humans we all have flaws, whether we know them or not, and often we dislike lots about ourselves for no good reason. It’s time to treat our bodies with more compassion, I say 🙂

  • It is such a helpful article full of insight! Loving your body and being in peace with it is a key

    • Thanks for reading and commenting, Lyosha! Loving your body and being at peace with it is indeed important, yet so so hard, isn’t it?! All we can do is try our best, and that’s enough 🙂

  • I always take my body to the limit in terms of sleeping. Sometimes my Insomnia takes the best of me. Thanks for this tips. We have to learn to respect and love our bodies.

    • Hi Jessica, I do that too despite my chronic illnesses, which is really not wise! I tend to want to be ‘productive’ all the time but that’s just not possible, and my body can take a blow from it! I really need to practice self compassion and am still learning to let things go 😉

  • Amazing amazing amazing article Sheryl, I can’t thank you enough for talking about this. Self-acceptance is a huge goal for me for this year.

    • Thank you Chad. I think that’s an excellent goal to strive for this year and forever! Self-acceptance can really change your life for the better 🙂

  • All great thoughts, especially “It’s difficult to love your body when it’s flawed”. Boy howdy is it.

    @dSavannahCreate from dSavannahRambles xoxo

    • Haha tough one isn’t it, especially with chronic illness! But indeed I’m learning to love it more, and treat it with more kindness 😀

  • I’ve saved this post to read again and again. Just when I feel like my body and I are connecting and have an understanding, bam! We’re in a fight today, and I needed this to help me get beyond anger and discouragement. Thanks.?

    • Thanks for reading and saving it, Katie 🙂 Yea my body is in a flare this week as well, and to be honest I could probably treat it better, too. Anyway just hoping this will pass calmly enough, and sending you well wishes and strength, too! x

  • I really enjoyed this post, espcially the part about finding a new intimacy with your body. This is such a lovely way to look at things. And it’s so true, I’m so much more grounded in my body than I used to be.

    • Thanks Jenny! Yes even though it’s forced, the awareness we have about ourselves and our bodies are still invaluable lessons 🙂

  • I love this post Sheryl, my body has been through so much, I have so much more respect for it when I was ‘well’ and just worried about how it looked!

  • This is a great post. It becomes easy to hate our bodies because of how they function so badly. But hating our bodies, is like hating ourselves. We need to learn how to love again.

    • Hi Elizabeth, yes exactly. And I think we often don’t realise our bodies might be confused, but are truly trying their best for us, too. Sending good thoughts today!

  • […] with your Body, Even with Chronic Illness” written by Sheryl Chen of The Chronic Voice (https://www.achronicvoice.com/2018/02/05/healthy-relationship-body-chronic-illness/).  Sheryl explored the idea that the relationship we have with our bodies echoes the relationship […]

  • Pretty much a love letter to ourselves – that is us spoonies. Great post Sheryl – sharing!!

  • I really love this article. I used to look at my body as my enemy when I first got ill, but through the years I slowly learned more to take care of it. I think whenever I have a high pain day I’m gonna come back to this piece. It’s a great eye opener that we should not be angry at our bodies but we should comfort it. After all, it’s the only body we were given so we might aswell treat it right.

    • Hi Kirsten,

      Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts 🙂 Yes me too. I used to fight against it and get really angry with it, but now I think it’s pretty amazing despite all the errors with its internal code lol. Wishing you low pain days! x

  • This really hit home for me as I don’t like, let along love, my body very much. We are wonderfully made and even when things are wrong, our bodies are still amazing.

    Thank you for the reminder to honor my body for the marvelous creation it is.

    Hugs!

    • Dear Pearl,

      I’m happy that this article is of use to you 🙂 Yes it can be so difficult and probably be a lifelong learning journey, but our bodies are still wondrous things 🙂 x

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