Is working from home with chronic illness really possible? Having an illness or a disability is a huge challenge, but it doesn’t have to be the end of your career. With a bit of thinking outside the box and plenty of adaptability, you can work and have job satisfaction no matter what your state of health.
Today’s article contains my tips on how to work effectively from home and build a new and satisfying career no matter your challenges, all while looking after your health.
I think it’s important to have a purpose and a passion in your life. They help keep chronic illness in perspective. If you don’t have something to do, it’s easy to become consumed by the merry-go-round of symptoms, doctors, treatments and so on.
I’ve found that keeping my mind occupied by working from home has helped me to become the healthiest I can be with my chronic condition. It gives me something else to think about.
Ideas for Types of Work You Can Do From Home
In these days of the internet, we’re lucky to have many more opportunities for working from home with chronic illness than we had in previous decades. The employment marketplace is now global, so we can work for people all over the world from the comfort of our living room, or even while in bed.
I knew one inspiring woman who created an online business from her hospital bed. She’s no longer with us, but her legacy lives on. You can watch her story here.
I wrote about the different types of work you can do from home here, and any of those ideas might suit you depending on your interests.
There are also employment websites especially for those with chronic illnesses or disabilities, such as Chronically Capable.
Find something that you love to do and create your new career around that. Dealing with chronic illness is hard enough without having to force yourself to do work you don’t like.
My 10 Best Tips for Working From Home With Chronic Illness and Thriving
1. Self-care, self-care, self-care
Our bodies are telling us something. They’re crying out for our attention. We’ll never have a decent quality of life if we don’t listen and adapt to our own needs. And let’s face it, we only get one life.
Schedule in first all the things that you need to make your life comfortable. Whether that’s physiotherapy, hydrotherapy, meditation, yoga, massage appointments, exercise sessions or simply some quiet time just to contemplate, make sure that time is sacrosanct.
2. Look after your mental health too
Give yourself time to grieve for your previously healthy life. Having a chronic illness involves a lot of grief that you may not realize.
You grieve for your lost abilities and strength.
You grieve for your job if you’ve had to give one up.
When you start to work from home you grieve for the camaraderie of friends and colleagues at work.
It takes time to come to terms with the changes in your life, but it can be done. I found meditation a great help with that. Having a new passion or career to work on is a huge help too.
It gives you a purpose and motivation, and gives you back your self-worth. For my new work from home job I created a website with my mother to help people with grief. We even have a page on the grief of losing your job due to disability.
3. Work smart, not hard, when working from home with chronic illness
Our time is valuable. Even more so when it’s limited due to chronic illness. We may have only a few hours a day when we have energy to get things done. So we need to be efficient.
Work out which tasks are the most important and which can be left for later. Always start with the more important jobs. That way you’ll make more progress.
Think about what parts of your work from home job give you most income and/or satisfaction and concentrate on those.
I was doing a lot of different freelance bits and pieces while building websites from home. I was gradually able to drop the things that were too time-consuming and concentrate on those that made the most money for me.
4. Get help
Think about getting help for the tasks that are the most tiring or arduous for you. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from partners or friends. They’re often willing to help. Mostly it’s our pride that stops us, as we hate not being able to do everything ourselves.
At one stage, when I was building my websites, I used to get my partner to do photo resizing for me. He liked being able to contribute to the progress of my online businesses.
Think about getting a cleaner or someone to do your washing or ironing. If you can make more money in that time doing something you love online, then it’s a worthwhile tradeoff.
Get your shopping delivered to save you energy.
Outsource things that are tiring or time-consuming. There are many freelancer websites these days where you can outsource nearly any online task to workers all over the world. Upwork and Fiverr are a couple of examples.
5. Concentrate on the tasks only you can do
Decide which parts of you work from home job are the ones only you can do and concentrate on those. What are your most valuable skills? Focus on them to develop your online business in the most efficient way.
6. Get your workstation right for working from home with chronic illness
I’ve lost count of the times when I’ve got up from being engrossed in some work online to find I have a stiff neck or a headache that takes days to resolve. I’ve been through more office chairs and furniture than you can imagine trying to get my workstation as ergonomically correct as possible, and I still end up working lying on the sofa or my bed.
Whatever your challenge, do spend some time trying to get as comfortable as possible while you work. It will help in the long run.
7. Take lots of breaks when working from home with chronic illness
Create a timetable and stick to it. Set an alarm and take regular breaks. Go for a walk, listen to some music, watch the birds, breathe. Do something in your breaks to reduce the stress of working on your online business. Avoid over-exerting yourself.
8. Accept the bad days
There will be days when we just can’t work. We have a flare up, we’ve done too much, or we run out of energy. Accept that those situations will happen. Don’t force yourself to work through them. Learn to say no, especially to yourself! The work will still be there tomorrow.
Listen to your body and hear what it says. If you need to rest, rest.
I’m fortunate that my online business earns a passive income that keeps coming even if I can’t work for a few weeks, or even months! It took me a while to set up these income streams, but it was worth it in the end. They’re also going to see me through my retirement.
9. Reduce your expectations
Accepting limitations is one of the most difficult things to do, especially if you’re a perfectionist like me and have long to-do lists.
Reduce your expectations of yourself, and be proud of what you do achieve. It just might take longer these days. You’ll still get there in the end. As the popular saying goes “the tortoise wins the race.” In fact that’s the motto of Solo Build It!, the online business-building platform I use.
10. Connect with others
When working from home with chronic illness, we often lose a lot of connections. If we have strong connections in our lives, we live longer and are healthier. So keeping up with friends and family and wider circles is vitally important.
I found that I made lots of friends and colleagues all over the world when I joined Solo Build It! to create my online businesses. It made me feel part of something bigger, which was wonderful and reassuring.
The Bottom Line of Living With Chronic Illness
I’m living proof that you can still have an interesting life and career after being diagnosed with a chronic illness. I have my bad days and my challenges, but working from home with a chronic illness has been incredibly satisfying. It kept me sane and connected to the wider world.
My biggest tip, and the most important? Listen to your body, pace yourself, and look after yourself first.