My older sister was recently diagnosed with a long-term condition that will change the course of her life. About three months ago she first showed symptoms and after a long medical process, the doctors have now arrived at a diagnosis and offered some possible courses of action. With any illness comes a lot of confusion, waiting and pain. During this period, there are certain habits that can really make a person’s life bad. Fortunately, I have noticed a few positive habits that my sister picked up at different stages that range from her first symptom right on through to her diagnosis three months later. Most of these are activities that have taken her mind off things for a while and made her feel proactive. I’ve collated a few and included one or two of my own that may help someone deal with long-term illnesses.

#1 Going for walks. In the weeks that followed my sister’s first symptom, she immediately had to give up driving and her job. This and other effects of illness can really reduce a person’s sense of freedom. Going for walks around the local area or driving to a walking route with a family member/friend can go some way to counteracting this feeling. Various studies have shown getting out into nature is very beneficial to you and if nothing else the fresh air tires you out and this usually results in a better night’s sleep.

#2 Gardening. Our garden is looking great at the moment. Old ravenous bushes have been trimmed, grass seeds have been sown and weeds have been removed. When you are gardening, your mind is occupied and less inclined to worry. Moreover, a well-kept garden is a great place to relax and take your mind off the stresses that illness can bring.

#3 Rearranging the house’s contents. This is very similar to gardening and provides similar cathartic results. Activities such as these are usually at the bottom of a to-do list, yet there is something very satisfying about getting less-pressing things done in and around your house. For example, my sister sorted out and sold loads of old books, DVDs and clothes.

#4 Healthy eating. After her first symptom, my sister was very scared and set to finding ways to improve and prevent it ever happening again. For better or worse, this fear translated into a massive healthy eating drive that has not stopped. Whilst you should consult your doctor with anything related to diet and exercise, my intuition tells me that making your diet healthy and well-balanced won’t do any harm!

#5 Research. This one is a bit contentious for me, researching can give rise to anxiety and false beliefs. Many would not recommend that you research anything until your doctor has given you some advice on the matter. However, the research my sister has done has left her informed about her condition and the options she can take which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. However, it could have been worse – approach research with caution.

#6 TV series and movie nights. My sister binge-watched all of American Horror Story in a week or so. This isn’t necessarily healthy but it can serve the purpose of taking your mind off whatever is going on. Moreover, my sister’s TV marathon was wrapped between walks and gardening, so it wasn’t too bad. Similarly, my sister, mum and aunt have recently been getting together to watch movies on a Saturday night, little activities like this can boost morale and take your mind off things.

#7 Cheat days. Whilst healthy living is important and can improve your health and happiness, treating yourself to the occasional pizza and kilogram bar of chocolate isn’t always the worst thing for you. Food can serve as a comfort for people and sometimes indulging yourself once in a while gives you a boost.

#8 Activities. By this, I mean going out for meals, coffees and taking trips to the cinema. The benefits of such activities are obvious!

#9 Mindfulness and meditation. Although I’m not aware of my sister doing mindfulness or meditation, I have no doubt it might help someone dealing with or waiting for a diagnosis. The act of mindfulness is simply observing your thoughts. It gives people a better understanding of themselves and has been known to reduce stress. At a time when anxiety and tensions could be high, turning in on yourself and observing for a short time each day could prove massively beneficial.

#10 Exercise. This final point is subject to your diagnosis, symptoms and your doctor’s advice. If all of these give you the okay, then go for it. Walking and gardening are both forms of exercise, but running and playing team sports may also improve your mood and take your mind off things for a while.

I hope this is informative and may have helped. Feel free to comment your