When I first became sick, I fell into a bit of a depression. My battle started with colitis, which initially was unmanaged, and soon morphed into an ongoing battle with fibromyalgia. The ongoing pain and fatigue dramatically changed my lifestyle. I felt like I’d lost so much, including the ability to pursue activities that once brought me great pleasure. During that time, my pharmacist encouraged me to do something that made me happy each day, even if that was something as simple as eating a candy bar. Initially, I balked at her statement, thinking she simply didn’t understand. But God has since shown me how important mirth is for our mental health.
The Benefits of Laughter to Manage Chronic Illness
Proverbs 17:22 states, “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” Modern research verifies this truth. According to the Mayo Clinic, laughter helps relieve stress, stimulates our organs and immune system, increases circulation, and helps combat anxiety and depression. It also releases endorphins, which act as natural pain killers. Knowing this, I started making a point to add fun activities to my schedule, whether that meant sitting out in the sun, going for coffee with my adult daughter, or watching some clean comedy routines on YouTube.
While my pain levels aren’t predictable enough to actively test science’s claims, I enjoy much greater joy than during that bleak period when I was first diagnosed. Most days, I experience genuine happiness as well.
Chronic illness is hard and can easily lead to discouragement and grief. It might indeed steal our happiness, for a time. But remember, biblical joy goes so much deeper than our momentary feelings. It’s the unshakeable knowledge that God loves us, remains with us, and is using our pain for good. What’s more, He holds our eternal future, an inheritance that won’t fade or tarnish, secure in Christ. That, friends, is always reason for joy.
A Helpful Resource for Managing Chronic Illness:
Is it possible to suffer daily with chronic illness and also live a thriving life? Yes! Jennifer Slattery is your chronic illness coach and friend, walking alongside you with the resources and support you need to thrive in your life. Her podcast, Thriving with Chronic Illness, empowers listeners to see their illness through the lens of the gospel, using Scripture as a roadmap for navigating the challenges, loneliness, fatigue and pains of life with chronic illness, while also learning how to thrive.
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