It’s very easy to get stuck in a rut when you’re faced with chronic illness. Dealing with pain and fatigue day in day out can really get a person down. However, there are ways to brighten up your life and make yourself and others smile. Here are just a selection that I devised together with my beautiful sister-in-law Heide.
Try out a new recipe or buy a new cookbook. It’s fun to experiment. You could even invite friends round and cook together.
Order a new dish from your usual restaurant or takeaway place. All too often Corey and I order the same damn dishes from our favorite Greek takeaway place Pauls Grill. Dare to be different! Alternatively, look up the restaurants in your area and try out a new one or a new kind of cuisine.
Volunteer as a dog walker or pet the puppies at an animal home. Studies show that contact with animals releases endorphins and makes us feel happy. I can attest to that thanks to our cuddly kitten Biscuit. Alternatively, consider adopting a pet of your own.
Treat yourself to a massage or a facial. If you’re short on cash, you might want to consider trying out one of the beauty schools that offer reduced rates. If you have even less cash, consider just getting your eyebrows shaped and/or tinted or get a lash tint for an inexpensive change that will make you feel good.
Nordstrom’s offers free facials at their make-up counters. If you are in a mean mood and can’t really afford to buy their products, have them do your make-up, tell them you look like a clown and walk away;-). Truth be told, I have had my make-up down at places in the past only to feel as if I could have done it better myself.
Get a new haircut or color. If you’re feeling flash with cash, consider getting highlights. They can add a touch of fun to your look. Alternatively, volunteer to get your cut or color at cut-price rates by one of the trainees. Many salons offer these schemes, including some of the big-name ones and in my experience the trainees tend to be supervised by one of their superiors, which prevents you from ending up with a mullet, which is something that once happened to me over the Easter weekend and so I went home crying. I had to wait until Tuesday to get this fuck-up fixed and was so embarrassed that I wore a hat to the salon. Unfortunately, the only hat I had at the time was one with a picture of a hash leaf on it that my ex-boyfriend had brought me back from Amsterdam, so everybody thought I was a druggie as I passed them on my way to another hairdresser to get my hair fixed. I told her “I will call you Jesus as I need you to perform a miracle!”
Try out a new lipstick or make-up look you have seen in a magazine. Find the right color for you. For instance, red seems to be this season’s color, but there are both cool and warm red and depending on your complexion and coloring one or the other is going to look more flattering on you.
Invite friends round for a clothes-swapping night. Sort out the clothes that no longer fit and that you’d like to give away. I certainly have plenty of those in my closet …
Meet your husband/wife or significant other at the door when he or she comes home and treat him or her to a striptease he or she will never forget.
Paint your dog’s toenails. He or she will look swish and stylish and you’ll have fun acting as their own personal beauty therapist. Would not recommend doing this to your cat unless you plan on going to the hospital to get your lacerations stitched, which might be an option if you’re hoping to marry a nice cute doctor.
Join your local library or treat yourself to some new books. Drink from the fountain of knowledge and never grow thirsty!
Find a classic movie, genre or comedian you have never watched before. Never be afraid to try something new. It might enrich your life and anything that makes you laugh gives your health a boost.
Go to a karaoke bar and sing on stage. You will be proud that you had the guts to do this and it’s also a very enjoyable experience as long as you are with the right crowd.
Arrange a cleaning exchange where you and your friends help each other clean your houses. This saves you money and gives you time to enjoy spending with your friends, turning a tedious task into time-saving teamwork. Reward yourself by performing beauty treatments on each other such as painting each other’s toenails and fingernails and giving each other facials.
Do a good turn for the day. Volunteer for a local charity or visit a friend who is ill or depressed and lend them some support. It’s important to realize that you are not alone with your illness and helping others will help you do just that plus giving will increase your self-esteem and it can’t be bad to spread positivity.
On the weekend visit the farmers’ market to get some organic fresh fruit and veggies or visit one of the stores where you can buy yummy appetizers (e.g. Greek or Italian).
Send your loved one a text message to tell them you love them. This is something we tend to take for granted, but it’s always nice to remind them.
Take your laptop and go work outside – that way you can combine work and pleasure and also absorb some vital Vitamin D.
Do a search on your city or check their webpage to find something new and interesting to visit. All too often, we take our surroundings for granted, but sometimes it can be fun to explore the town you live in.
Check out a new music group or buy a new CD. Sing along to it. I’m pretty sure that singing releases endorphins too and I can certainly say that music never fails to cheer me up.
Look up an old friend you have lost touch with and get back in touch with them. Sometimes we lose touch with people we still care about and reviving a friendship can sometimes be beneficial for both parties.
Go for a walk in nature. Sometimes it’s important to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city and to clear your mind. Nature can be very healing.
Use Magic Sliders or a similar product to help you easily rearrange your furniture and give your home a new look. Anyone for feng shui? Single girls feel free to enlist the help of that cute neighbor you’ve been trying to pluck up courage to talk to for so long.
Hold a murder mystery party or a theme party. We did a 1950s one and it was very fun to dress up and act the part. This gives some shy people a great opportunity to come out of their shell and the games are generally available in games stores along with tips for organization, food and decorations.
If you are a chocaholic, go to a specialty chocolate store and try out a new chocolate you have never tasted before. These days, there are so many varieties on the market including chocolate with chili, green tea and even bacon to name but a few.
If you’re a wine aficionado attend a wine tasting and enjoy getting drunk as a skunk. This year, we have been to two wine tastings at two of our favorite restaurants – one is Greek and the other Italian. Both included set menus and were a fun experience.
Sign up for a class at your local college, store or school. Many stores such as Joanne Fabrics, Home Depot, Michaels and Lowe’s offer a range of classes. During the school holidays, many schools offer low-cost courses such as computer courses, mushroom hunting, pottery, karate and arts and crafts.
If you enjoy sports and have the energy, consider joining a local sports team or perhaps sign up for a gym membership or find yourself a personal trainer. Many hotels with gyms and pools offer discount memberships. YMCA also offers scholarships for low-income families, enabling you to use their gyms and pools and attend their classes for discounted rates or even for free.
Belly dancing classes are a great way to keep fit and feel sexy whatever your size. All too often, we forget what sexy beasts we are and tend to rigidly focus on our illness. In fact, it actually pays to have a few extra pounds and you will find that most belly dancers are traditionally curvaceous, which doesn’t mean to say that you are disqualified if you have a slimmer figure. This is an exercise that is open to everyone.
Aqua aerobics is also a great way to work out without putting strain on your joints thanks to the gentle flow of the water. It’s also an excellent way to keep cool on hot days. For those of you who suffer from temperature fluctuations, taking a fluffy robe to the pool might prevent you from freezing your butt off when you get out of the pool.
I hope you enjoyed these tips and that they provided you with some inspiration. I’d love to hear about any suggestions or tactics you use to brighten up your life.