When some people smile, it’s downright infectious. Such is the case for Nitika Chopra, a wellness blogger and social media influencer who radiates positive energy across multiple platforms, including Instagram, where she has amassed more than 35,000 followers. Chopra directs her good vibes where they’re needed most, helping people with chronic illnesses cope with their challenges and experience as many joyful moments in life as possible.
Chopra’s blog features weekly posts on topics like beauty, lifestyle, career, and relationships. At first glance, the beautiful and fashionable 36-year-old could be any successful lifestyle blogger. But look closer and she goes much deeper, delving into difficult subjects like living with pain. For Chopra, many years of grappling with her own illness led her down this path to positivity.
When she was 10 years old, Chopra was diagnosed with psoriasis. “I had it from the top of my head to the ends of my toes for the better part of 16 years,” she says. “And at 19, I was diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis, which left me unable to walk without pain for six years in my early 20s.”
A difficult choice
She spent a lot of time in bed during those years, which gave her plenty of time for soul-searching. “I realized you have this choice of happiness,” she says. “This possibility where you don’t have to suffer all the time. As much as that may seem obvious, it wasn’t obvious to me or my traditionally Indian parents. They were very upset about what was happening to me.”
Then it clicked for her. “I learned that there was another way,” she says. “Even though my body was going through pain and suffering, I didn’t have to suffer emotionally at every moment.”
For Chopra, that meant choosing small things to brighten her spirit. “Like lotion or a hot bath, calling a friend, or watching a funny video that made me laugh,” she says.
“How do you choose happiness in the most painful moments of your life? How can you be your own cheerleader when things are so dark?” – @NitikaChopra
She realized she could harness her abilities and possibly help others. “I’ve always had a love for performance,” she says. “I’ve been singing since I was a kid and love being on stage. But I also didn’t want it to be one-dimensional with me in the forefront. I wanted to bridge the gap between helping other people and using my talents.”
It took a lot of time and experimenting before Chopra decided to create her own brand. “I wanted to help people on their journey and give them content that was supportive, loving, and introspective,” she explains. “I had no money at the time — no resources, no experience and no connections. I didn’t know how I would do it, but I knew I wanted to build my own platform.”
In 2010, she started by launching an online magazine called Bella Life, which she published for five years before transitioning to her eponymous blog. Since then, she’s racked up many thousands of followers and has been featured in national magazines like Lucky and Inc. She hosted two seasons of a talk show — “Naturally Beautiful” on Z Living — that is still in re-runs. She was also a regular host on QVC for the beauty brand Fresh.
Thriving with chronic illness
At first, she focused on wellness in a broad sense, offering cheerful tips for her readers and viewers. “It’s only recently that I began to focus on chronic illness,” says Chopra. “I felt that it wasn’t enough to talk about beauty and self-love. I want to talk to the people that nobody talks to about these things. There’s nothing I know better than how to thrive with a chronic illness, but for eight years I resisted the urge to put it in the forefront.”
Though she’s currently in remission, she spent so much of her life dealing with her illness that she simply didn’t want to talk about it anymore. “I don’t want to be defined by my condition,” she says. “For so long, it was all I knew about myself. Then I had a full-circle moment and realized that people with chronic illness need the conversation of self-love more than anybody I’m interested in talking to.”
On Instagram, her favorite social media platform, Chopra’s feed features an uplifting mix of selfies, quotes, and pretty groupings of objects. Altogether they embody her definition of self-love and achievable happiness.
“How do you choose happiness in the most painful moments of your life?” she asks. “How can you be your own cheerleader when things are so dark? Sometimes it can be small things like rearranging meetings for a day or getting a mani-pedi with friends.”
Now that she’s found profound meaning in helping people with chronic illnesses discover their best selves, she can’t imagine any other path.
“I feel like this is my life’s work,” she says. “I’m not sure how it will all come together, but I’m letting it fall into place.”