We all have goals that we have set for our lives, be it earning a certain degree or landing a particular job, and nothing should stop you from accomplishing your dream, not even a chronic illness. Yes, you will have obstacles to overcome if you deal with pain or discomfort on a daily basis, but with the right strategies and techniques, you can beat the odds and have a thriving career.
To help you out, we have created this guide of tips and advice that you can follow to find success in your life while managing your chronic illness.
Understand Your Health
While you have goals for your career, your health needs to be the priority. You need to take the time to listen to your body so you can decide if you have the energy to go to work or if you need to focus on your wellness. Do your best, but don’t try to overdo it, or the stress could make your illness worse, and your entire career could be cut short. Also, never let your employer force you into coming to work if you know you can’t do it today. Remember that you are given sick days and medical leave, and you have the right to use them.
It is also important to take the necessary medications and go to all scheduled doctor appointments. When you do, ensure that they complete all necessary tests, as there is always the possibility that you are dealing with more than one chronic illness. It is important to find out because if you are not getting the help that you need, then your health could deteriorate, and so could your career. Once you are able to get a grasp of your conditions, you can enter the proper treatment plan and feel good as you return to work.
Once you understand more about your condition and you know you may need to make adjustments at work, you can then talk to your boss about the situation. Tell them directly how often you can work and what assistance may be required. Remember that you have rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), so your employer will likely be understanding of your situation. If you have an illness that inhibits your work, but you don’t disclose it, then you can’t expect your company to make the proper adjustments.
Sometimes, the realities of your chronic illness may make it so that it is too difficult to go into a traditional office, and if that is the case, then ask to work remotely. Have an honest conversation with your employer. Tell them why you need to work remotely and how you plan to accomplish all necessary tasks even if you aren’t in the office. As technology evolves, we have more options for communicating with our teams over online chat or video, so you can continue to work without interruption.
In the case that the realities of your job make it so that completing your primary tasks is impossible without being in an office, then inquire about a hybrid schedule where you work several days in the office and the other part of the week at home. This is a great setup because you can still thrive in your job role without the need to stress about getting to work every day.
If thriving in your career means going to school either before you start working or while you are employed at your current organization, and your chronic condition makes it difficult to get around, then consider taking online classes. That way, you can still get the same degree, but you don’t have to jump through so many hoops to get it. When it comes to succeeding in an online class, make sure to budget your time so that you have a large enough window to learn what you need to pass the test without feeling stressed. Also, choose a time of the day when you will be free of distractions, including kids and television, so you can focus on the task at hand.
Comfortable Working Environment
Whether you work at home or in the office, it is important that you have a comfortable work environment, so you are not causing yourself additional pain. Start with how you sit. Find a chair that provides adequate back support, so you don’t hurt your spine over time. Also, elevate your laptop or computer screen so that the top of the monitor is lined up with your eyes. Doing so will also help to keep your spine aligned and avoid eye strain.
When you have a chronic illness, maintaining your mental health is just as important as your physical health. You can improve your mind frame while you work by opening the blinds and sitting next to the window so you can let the natural light wash over you. It is also said that plant life can help us to feel better while we work, so consider putting a houseplant on your desk, and you may even be more productive because of it.
Finally, it is important to have a proper work/life balance. Work your eight hours but don’t overdo it or you will be mentally and physically exhausted. Instead, set the end of the workday in stone, and when you’re done, turn your work phone off and go home to your family. Never let an employer pressure you into working later if you are truly not up to the task. Spend time doing things you enjoy after work, and it could take your mind off of your pain.
As you can see, it is possible to work, go to school, and generally enjoy your career even if you have a chronic condition. Consider these tips, ask for help when necessary, and you will thrive.