[picapp align=”center” wrap=”false” link=”term=laughter&iid=300316″ src=”0296/5cb4596a-3361-4e8e-87b6-eee63e16579a.jpg?adImageId=12748371&imageId=300316″ width=”380″ height=”250″ /]I seem to have acquired the habit of asking my new patients, “What do you do for fun?” I don’t recall when exactly this question popped into my regular lineup of inquiries, but, after a few weeks or months, that phrase has stuck around. There are several reasons why I like asking this. I enjoy getting to know my patients as whole people and not just “lady with a sore knee” or “guy with RA.” Some of my patients are artists, musicians, antiques collectors, pet lovers and more. I also enjoy knowing the next time I see a particular patient we are going to talk about great shopping deals, another will show me a new tattoo, another will bring in photos of a beautiful spring garden. I suppose what I’m really asking is “What are your hobbies?” However, many people have trouble answering that because a hobby sounds very serious and dedicated, while things like watching movies or reading mystery novels or going to yard sales are maybe things people do for fun without considering it a formal hobby.
As much as I like hearing the various answers to this question, I have been finding myself holding back asking it lately after the conversation goes something like this;
Me: “And what do you like to do for fun?”
Me: “Really? Nothing? No fun at all?”
Patient: “No, I don’t have any fun. How can I have any fun? I’m in pain all the time. I have arthritis. I have fibromyalgia. . .” and the list of reasons goes on.
I would argue that when struggling with a chronic illness, finding ways to add some fun into one’s life is very important. The American Psychological Association agrees, noting that when coping with a chronic illness it is important to:
Stay connected. Establish and maintain quality relationships with friends and family. Many health organizations also sponsor support groups composed of other people experiencing similar challenges. These groups will not only aid your own well-being, but also provide rewarding opportunities to help others.
- Maintain a daily routine of work, errands, household chores, and hobbies as much as possible. This will provide you with a feeling of stability amid the chaos and uncertainty of your illness.
Take care of yourself. Don’t allow worries about your illness to get in the way of eating property, getting rest and exercise, and having fun.
Other resources, such as www.chronicbabe.com, show a way to live with chronic conditions rather than falling into the victim mentality. While the definition of fun might change, it is still important to find things to bring joy, happiness, purpose or maybe even just some distraction into one’s life.