How to Manage a Chronic Illness

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Having a chronic illness is something that more than 40% of the North American population will have to deal with, according to The National Health Council. Of course, there are varying severity of chronic illnesses, but they all possess the same challenges and all, in some way, make it difficult to continue life as normal. 

This article’s aim is to empower those who suffer from chronic illness with useful advice and information to help them better manage their conditions. 

What is a Chronic Illness?

A chronic illness is any condition that lasts for a year or longer. There are many examples of chronic illnesses, but the most familiar include heart disease, diabetes, autoimmune disorders, multiple sclerosis, and kidney disease, to name a few. 

The Physical Effects of Chronic Illness

Each illness has its own physical side effects associated with it; however, some reoccurring symptoms are present in a lot of illness. This ranges from fatigue and tiredness to pain and body aches. Obviously, each illness will have its own recommendations on how to better relieve the symptoms, but there are some universal tips to improve general wellbeing: 

Keep your treatment/medication organized.

Taking the right treatment or medication at the right times can really help with how you feel. There are many different ways to keep on top of this, such as create a schedule or reminders. There are also chronic illness services such as Chartspan, who can help manage your prescriptions, set reminders and assist with in-home care. Using a service like this can really take the stress off managing how to treat your illness. 

Follow a healthy diet.

Good nutrition always results in better health and energy levels. Always follow the dietary instructions given to you, if any, and if not, be conscious about the food you eat. 

Keep active.

It’s essential to be as active as your illness allows to help you maintain a healthy weight. This can make living with your current illness slightly more manageable if you’re healthy, but it also helps reduce the risk of contracting another illness. 

The Mental Effects of Chronic Illness

Chronic Illnesses have the potential to drastically change one’s life and how they live it. It can negatively affect relationships, employment probability and an individual’s independence, which can have a disastrous effect on your mental wellbeing. The stress and pressure of having a chronic illness can instill feelings of depression and anxiety, and the somewhat isolating factor of having a chronic illness can bring loneliness. Additionally, the mental effects might not just be felt by the illness suffer. Sometimes, those close to the patient can feel just a bad, as they potentially might struggle with suddenly obtaining caregiving responsibilities, which may overwhelm. 

There are multiple ways to combat these negative feelings, with some of them being to: 

Seek support. 

It’s not fair tackling a life-changing illness on your own. Having a support group of friends or family members can ease the burden and allowing others to get involved with the illness can be inspiring. If having physical support isn’t appealing, there are also online support groups you can get involved with while remaining anonymous.

Find gratitude. 

Finding something to be grateful for each day can really determine your attitude for that day. Even if it’s one thing or a few small things, it will make you more positive as you appreciate the good in your life.

Communicate.

This is important. A lot of feelings and emotions are left unsaid and buried, and this can be unhealthy for the mind. By letting the essential people in your life know how you feel and what you need, it can make things a lot easier.

Socialize.

Chronic illnesses can be isolating, so it’s essential to try and maintain interaction as much as possible, as it can inspire, distract, and boost your mood. Socializing might be difficult for those who have hard to manage symptoms when away from home, but it’s essential to make an effort in an attempt for some normality.