Quotes About Self Care (& Self Care Quotes About Invisible Illness)

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Quotes about self-care, especially self-care quotes about invisible illness, are hard to come by. Well, good ones at least– you can find sappy schlock everywhere. But there are also gems, little bits of wisdom that remind me to take time for myself, helping me through the chronic pain of my invisible illnesses. Click one in the gallery below or scroll down to read a few of my favorites: where they come from, why I chose them, and what they mean to me.

All amazon links are affiliate links, because why not? But if you have a small local bookstore, I’d much rather you buy stuff there.

  • "What I am is good enough if I would only be it openly, carl rogers, janetjay.com" on a background of blue ocean and orange sky

“Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.” -John Wooden

"Don't let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do." John wooden, janetjay.com, on a scrapbook-style background with paper and fabric swatches and a B&W photo of a girl holding her face

Speaking of “fighting the daily battle to live and do as much as possible despite whatever chronic pain or mental health BS I’m dealing with”! This quote puts a target on something that’s really difficult for me.

I was in high school when my invisible illnesses & chronic pain began, and suddenly, so many of the careers I’d considered were off the table, no matter how good I might have been at some parts of the job. That roundly sucked (and, let’s be honest, continues to!)

At the same time, I love what I do now so damn much. And I’ve been able to do so much I dreamed about, and so much I’m proud of.

So what good does it do me to pine for what might have been? Better to take that energy, those spoons, and put it towards a goal I can achieve. (Speaking of, need a writer, podcast guest or webinar host?) But of course, I fully admit that this is all easier said than done.

“Your worst enemy cannot harm you as much as your own unguarded thoughts.” – Unknown

"your worst enemy cannot harm you as much as your own unguarded thoughts,", janetjay.com, with a line drawing of a man sitting against a wall, curled up, with a blank speech bubble

Chronic pain is real. Mental health issues are real, and difficult, and painful. But the science is in: there’s a lot of evidence that the way we think about our pain affects the way we experience it. Dwelling on the worst possibilities, constantly stressed with your muscles full of knots, is not a good way to function. This is not to say that pain is in your head: just that those thoughts in your head can contribute to making that pain better or worse. That’s part of why I’m sharing these quotes about self care– it’s so, so important. So know yourself, as best you can, and avoid the stuff that gets you worked up or breaks your heart. (That goes double if you’re trying to get to sleep.)

My pain started when I was 15 and for a very long time I was haunted by the person I might have been. But there was nothing there but pain, disappointment and frustration. Is it natural to think about? Of course. Even though I’ve now been disabled and in chronic pain for the majority of my life, it still truly saddens me to think about all the things that are permanently off the table. That’s just part of being human, to some extent. But at the same time… How does it serve me to sit and mull over how I’ll never get to skydive?

(This quote is widely attributed to Buddha, but after doing some research, it seems there’s no evidence that it came from him. But that doesn’t change the wisdom, so I’m keepin’ it in.)

“If your heart is a volcano how shall you expect flowers to bloom in your hands?” – Kahlil Gibran

"if your heart is a volcano how shall you expect flowers to bloom in your hands? kahlil gibran, janetjay.com on a background of an erupting volcano

I love Kahlil Gibran. In fact, I used one of his quotes on my previous post of inspiring quotes about invisible illness. Sand and Foam was very important to me in high school and the Prophet, his best-known work, is also fantastic.

Chronic pain and disability advocates don’t talk enough about grief, and the anger that goes hand in hand with grief for the person we used to be, the person we could have become. Of course you feel long-simmering rage at the unfairness of it all! It is incredibly unfair. But you’re not the only one grieving the life–and the you–that might have been.

It’s hard not to get angry at the fundamental unfairness of it all. But when you have chronic pain or invisible illnesses there’s no focus for that anger, and in the end, it will come back to bite you in the ass. “Don’t indulge your totally justified anger because in the end, you’re the one who will pay” is another one of those easier-said-than-done pieces of advice… but it’s also true.

Bonus: as a person who can’t resist buying a lovely book, well, I can confirm that this gorgeous edition of his collected work is worth buying.

“Be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars. In the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul.” – Max Ehrmann

self care quote on background of stars: "be gentle with yourself. you are a child of the univrse, no less than the trees and the satars. In the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul." max ehrmann, janetjay.com

We’ll end with an oldie but a goodie. You’ve almost certainly heard “Desiderata,” even if you don’t recognize the name: it starts with the line “Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.” It’s all good stuff, but this is the line that really hit home for me. (Are you seeing the “be kind to yourself, dammit” theme here? Self care quotes like this really drive home that message– a message those of us with chronic pain or invisible illnesses all need to see sometimes.)

The time you waste dwelling on what might have been is time you can’t get back. And whatever it is you can no longer do, there are still things you can. Focus on the opportunity. Focus on the joy. Reign in your mind when you feel it going to the dark place. Is all this easier said than done? 100%. But that doesn’t make it any less crucial.

(I love the design of this book, too:)

On a white background, a line drawing of a person climbing a mountain with stars behind

Want a print of Desiderata? I really like this one:

“If you are gentle with yourself, you will become gentle with others.” – Thubten Yeshe

"Treat yourself, your mind, sympathetically, ,with loving kindness. If you are gentle with yourself, you will become gentle with others." -Thubten Yeshe janetjay.com," with a line drawing of a person hugging themselves with a scribble where face & hair would be

If you’re anything like me, you’re way too hard on yourself. I’ve always been a type-A person, and I end up kicking myself when I fail to do something.

One thing I’ve been working on a LOT is trying not to insult myself or put myself down. I didn’t realize how often I was doing that until someone close to me started pointing it out!

Be gentle when you speak to yourself. Give yourself the grace you would give a best friend or a family member. Remember that you’re trying, and that you’re dealing with a difficult set of challenges that most people know nothing about.

“Some days, 24 hours is too much, so I take the day hour by hour, moment by moment. I break the task, the challenge, the fear into small, bite-sized pieces. I can handle a piece of fear, depression, anger, pain, sadness, loneliness, illness.” – Regina Brett

Chronic pain and mental health struggles can feel like an elephant sitting squarely on your chest while you struggle to get everything done that needs to get done. But as the saying goes, the only way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time. The only way out is through! And as Regina Brett describes here, the only way through is by tackling challenges bit by bit, however and whenever you can. Speaking of…

“To be nobody-but-yourself– in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else– means to fight the hardest battle that any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.” – e.e. cummings

"To be nobody-but-yourself--in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else- means to fight the hardest battle that any human being can fight; and never stop fighting." - e.e. cummings janetjay.com

Raise your hand if you find yourself comparing your life to those of the “normal” people around you! Hell, a ton of people struggle with this, disabled and not.

e.e. cummings is one of my all-time favorite poets. If you’re not familiar with his work, “100 Selected Poems” is a fantastic place to start. This quote came from a text entitled “A Poet’s Advice to Students.” It was published in a small Michigan newspaper a few days before the poet turned 59. (Check out the Marginalian’s take on it!)

Of course this is more than a quote about self care, it’s an assessment of the human condition and the constant fight each of us must fight. It’s true for everyone, though those of us with disabilities have a rougher road.

If life is a race, those of us with chronic health issues may start farther back and get stuck in the outside lane. But to lean on the metaphor, we can still drive fast and far, sing along to the radio and find joy in the process.

“What I am is good enough if I would only be it openly.” – Carl Rogers

"What I am is good enough if I would only be it openly, cark rogers, janetjay.com" on a background of blue ocean and orange sky

This quote comes from Roger’s book “On Becoming a Person.” I had a hard time choosing just one (seriously, read through some of the other quotes from it)!

Figure out who you are and do your best to own it. Own your problems, your triumphs, own the plateau and the grind, own your public bio and your private 2 AM pleadings to the universe. Having a disability does not make you any less “good enough.” In fact, the struggle and the lessons we learn make many of us better.

Here’s his full quote about self care and acceptance:

Yet I find that when I can accept myself as I am, then I change. It is a puzzling paradox. The moment I accept myself as I am, then I can begin to be myself. We have got to learn to accept ourselves before we can begin to change. This means accepting ourselves where we are at this moment. It means accepting our assets and our liabilities, our trials and our challenges, our joys and our sorrows. What I am is good enough if I would only be it openly. What I am is good enough if I would only see it clearly. Then growth can begin – growth into tomorrow – because I have no need to distort today. I can be free to see it clearly and accept it honestly. I can see both my strengths and my weaknesses. Being what I am is good enough for growth, but so often I cannot accept the deepest thing that I am. When I can accept that, change begins.”

– Carl Rogers, On Becoming a Person: A Therapist’s View of Psychotherapy

If life is a race, those of us with chronic health issues start farther back and get stuck in the outside lane. But we can still drive fast and far, singing along to the radio and finding the joy in the process of getting there.

~Janet Jay

“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and found their way out of the depths… Beautiful people do not just happen.” -Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

I honestly don’t have much to add to this one besides “ain’t that the truth?!” This is especially true when you’re young, and it feels like you’re the only one with chronic health issues. (You’re not!)

The people I like best are those who have been through some shit and come out the other side stronger for it. There are lessons you can’t learn except through adversary. And while I’d never wish that on someone, it’s unfortunately common enough to not need to. Find the people who understand, whose grace under fire you admire, and keep them close.

[We] don’t talk enough about grief, and the anger that goes hand in hand with grief for the person we used to be, the person we could have become. Of course you feel long-simmering rage at the unfairness of it all! It is incredibly unfair. But you’re not the only one grieving the life–and the you–that might have been.

~Janet Jay
Back view of a woman's head in front of a cityscape: "People don't often associate chronic illness with grief but the realization that life will never be what it was and the future is not wha tyou thought it would be, is a major loss. Dr. Ingela Thune-boyle, janetjay.com"
Speaking of grieving the person you might have been! This is one of my favorites from my first page of quotes about chronic pain, which includes even more quotes about self care.

What’s YOUR favorite quote about self care (/ self care quote about invisible illness, chronic pain, mental health, disability, etc)? Leave a comment below with one you think should be included in my next page of chronic pain quotes!

Pin this so you remember these great self-care quotes are here. Then check out my OTHER pages of quotes about self care, inspiration and life with chronic pain and invisible illnesses!

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drawing of a woman in a blue shirt and black pants on a chair with legs crossed, rocking back and forth while reading a book as a form of self care beside a pile of other books, text above on a torn sheet of paper reading "inspiring quotes about invisible illness, janetjay.com"
"top 10 inspirational quotes about chronic pain and joy to motivate you through the new year and beyond" janetjay.com
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Hopefully this site will help you avoid some of the BS I’ve experienced over the last 20 years seeking treatment for my chronic pain, invisible illnesses & mental health challenges. Maybe it’ll even help you think about disability in a new way! But at the very least, I hope you learn something, and I hope it helps you feel less alone.

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