I recently had the pleasure of hosting a dinner party in New York City along with Healthline, who I’ve written for many times on issues of everything — from psoriasis to choosing not to have children.

On the guest list: some of the most inspiring people I know.

It’s part of the ‘Chronic Self-Love’dinner series, where we gather a group of influencers and brands for an evening of good food and honest talk about all things chronic illness and self-love.

When we began, I had no idea what these evenings would look like. I just knew I had to follow a burning desire to bring together amazing humans doing amazing things and connect all of them with brands who have the resources to support their work.

I feel strongly that we — especially those of us living with chronic illness — can be of service and be generous and still get everything we need to take care of ourselves.

Maybe even more at times.

I had developed a friendship with a lovely woman named Lauren who heard me speak at a conference in January and that’s how this all began. She happened to be in charge of marketing at one of my favorite healthy eating spots, The Little Beet, and we knew we had the potential to create some magic together.

Cut to a few months later and I was inviting the most breathtaking people I could think of to come and have a beautiful meal, vulnerable conversation, and create genuine connection.

At the risk of sounding cliché, after our first evening together, I knew my work and my life would be forever changed.

I’ve had friends like Stacy London, Jera Foster-Fell, Diva Dhawan, and Nazira Sacasa in attendance for these dinners and the magic that happens has been profound for both myself and my guests.

Mostly, I’ve learned a tremendous amount from these special evenings. As a patient advocate and content creator, it can be easy to get swept up in the work of it all.

These dinners have helped me learn to pause, connect, and take a step back to see why this work is so important in the first place.

Here are five invaluable things I learned from our most recent gathering. Creating a safe space for true community and connection is life-changing — and I hope maybe this will inspire you to create a dinner series of your own!

1. We are all the same

It doesn’t matter how large someone’s following is or how long the list of credentials is behind their name. When gathering a group, focus on what’s real and true. You’ll find that we are all the same way more than we are different.

2. People crave connection

The people I invited are incredibly busy and have a million different things that they could have been doing on a Thursday night, but they couldn’t wait to show up and make new friends who were real.

3. Meaningful partnerships are possible

If you focus on creating partnerships with brands, people, and organizations that are aligned with your core values, the sky is the absolute limit for what you can build together.

That’s how I feel every time I partner with brands like Healthline. It’s a complete pleasure and rarely ever feels like work. We are on a focused mission together.

4. Setting a clear intention is key

Before these chronic self-love evenings began, I knew I wanted there to be deep connection, vulnerability, joy, and possibility that came out of each dinner. And that’s exactly what happened.

Setting that intention and focusing on it throughout the entire process was essential to a successful event. 

5. Let go of control

In the past, I used to get so hung up on perfection and control and I wasn’t really able to enjoy my events along with my guests. For these dinners, I noticed that once I set the intention, letting go of control was essential for it all to fall into place.

Trusting that your guests are excited to be there allows for everyone to create an evening that’s authentic and feels easy.

I’ve loved these dinner series so much that I decided to do a lot more of them.

It took me a while to pull all the pieces together and create an event that I felt so connected to. But once I did, I created events that truly transformed my life and those of the other guests.

Whether it’s as part of a group get-together, or staying home alone for a cozy Saturday night, we all deserve a heavy dose of chronic self-love! So I’ll leave you with the three mantras I repeat to myself regularly.

  • I love my body, no matter what my body feels like right now. I am doing the absolute best I can and so is my body. I am not my body. My body is just the home where my heart and soul live.

Nitika Chopra is a beauty and lifestyle expert committed to spreading the power of self-care and the message of self-love. Living with psoriasis, she’s also the host of the “Naturally Beautiful” talk show. Connect with her on her website, Twitter, orInstagram.