Managing a Chronic Illness: Here Are 3 Basics to Keep in Mind by Susan Masterson, PhD
If you have just been diagnosed with a chronic illness, it may be overwhelming. Managing a chronic condition can feel like a part-time job all by itself. From having multiple prescriptions to juggle, frequent doctor appointments, planning your diet around good and bad-for-you foods, having a cumbersome bedtime routine, to needing extra “stuff” when you travel, it can quickly zap your energy and feed the symptoms you’re trying to minimize. First and foremost, keep these three things in mind:
- Prioritize Your Focus: With abundant information about how diet, sleep, exercise, meditation (among other things) all affect your health, you may find yourself trying to control it all. By trying to start an all-out elimination diet while beginning an exercise routine and learning how to meditate every day on top of your “regular” life responsibilities, you will quickly burn yourself out. Talk to your doctor about which change can have the biggest impact, and start with that one.
- Grab Quiet Moments: Taking a minute here and there to be mindful and present in the moment can let some dust settle from life’s daily stressors and allow you to refocus. Standing in line, waiting at a red light, waiting for the microwave to “beep” – use those moments to take a deep breath and ground yourself, no matter how small they may be.
- Don’t Beat Yourself Up: You may not be able to do as much as you could before or you may feel like you’ve let your loved ones down. You’re human, remember? Give yourself some credit – you’re doing the best you can given the hand you’ve been dealt. Consider this a learning curve, and be patient with yourself as you adjust to your new normal. Things will improve, and you will look back on this time and think, "Wow, look what I can get through!"
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