Today, we’re talking about Chronic Illness & Anxiety in response to a listener question we recently received:

“I am a keen follower of your podcasts. Your podcast has really helped me through difficult times, calming my anxiety and giving me a calm mindset. I have had Crohn’s disease for over 28 years, which in the past has caused me terrible anxiety. I use your techniques to help calm my anxiety. I wonder would it be possible to focus on chronic illness in one of your upcoming podcasts?

I still find it difficult to accept even after 28 years that my illness is for life; trying to find techniques that help with understanding this mind set would be really useful. I’ve scoured the Internet for podcasts relating to anxiety and chronic illness, but haven’t found anything useful. Keep up the fantastic work you do.”



Notes from the show:

Ananga shares the teachings and practices that helped her while living with chronic illness and pain.

Understanding that those closest to me didn’t define me by my illness

Although we may worry that we are burdensome, or not fully able to engage with our family and friends when sick, I was relieved to learn that my daughter (who was 5 when I first became ill) doesn’t recall growing up with a sick Mama. She remembers coming home from school to be being happy to see her and she would sit on my bed and share her day with me. Learning that my illness didn’t define my relationship with her was a big comfort to me.

Bringing awareness to what we can do even when sick

“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”

— Theodore Roosevelt

This quote had a profound effect on me. I wrote it on a scrap of paper and stuck it to my home office wall. It helped me lean in to the things I could still do even when sick. There were days when I was in bed and unable to do anything, but there were also days when I could connect and work over Skype, or write and record Guided Meditations. We started the Anxiety Slayer podcast when I was living with chronic pain and incapacitation and kept going through some very challening spells.

Exploring wisdom teachings that I’m not my body

I’ve been a student of the Vedas for 30 years. Long-term illness gave me the opportunity to explore more deeply the wisdom teachings of the Bhagavad-gita that reveal that we are not our bodies, but are eternal souls free from fear and full of knowledge. When I first heard that teaching it was fundamental to overcoming my anxiety, but pain and illness drew me to explore again and more deeply.

Acceptance helps calm anxiety

What we resist, persists.

— Carl Jung

When we resist our symptoms and situation we are fighting with ourselves and increasing stress and inflammation. Making peace with what is brings us back to what we can do. Even though we may be restricted we can still fill our days with love and laughter and small but significant steps of achievement.

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