Finding out you have a chronic health condition can trigger a range of emotions. Many people feel angry, scared, or sad after receiving such a diagnosis. All of those feelings are valid, but it is possible to move past them to live a life you love. Learn how to confidently manage your chronic condition by implementing the following advice.
1. Self-Manage Your Care
While your doctor plays a huge role in helping to manage symptoms, day-to-day care will fall on you. By learning how to be your own medical manager, you can increase the success of your treatment plan. Furthermore, it may help give you a sense of control over your situation.
As your medical manager, it’s important that you take any prescription medications as directed and not run out. New online companies are emerging to help patients reliably and affordably get their medicines at home. For example, Nurx provides at-home genital herpes treatment delivered discreetly to a patient’s front door.
Whatever condition you face, medications are just one factor — albeit an important one — in self-managing it. You can also help improve your symptoms and ease discomfort through the decisions you make about diet and exercise.
2. Consider a Variety of Pain Treatment Options
Many chronic conditions are accompanied by chronic pain. Everyone has experienced the throbbing sensation that follows a cut on the finger or the angry prick of a bumblebee sting. That type of pain, called acute pain, leaves quickly.
Chronic pain is different. It can last for months or even years. For many, pain is the most challenging symptom of their condition, but it can be improved with proper treatment.
Treatments for chronic pain vary depending on their cause. Examples of conditions that cause chronic pain include nerve damage, autoimmune conditions, and cancer. No single pain management technique is guaranteed to work. This shouldn’t make you lose hope; rather, prepare for some trial and error to discover what serves you best. By staying open to a variety of treatments, you and your doctor can more effectively make you pain-free again.
3. Take Care of Your Mental Health
A chronic condition diagnosis takes more than just a physical toll on your body. According to the Cleveland Clinic, one-third of people diagnosed with a serious health condition suffer depression symptoms. The lifestyle changes that come with a chronic diagnosis can evoke despair in some patients, leading to clinically significant depression.
Feelings of stress and even sorrow are normal reactions to life-altering events. However, there are a few actions you can take to reduce your risk of mental health problems. Take a look at your lifestyle habits and consider which ones are doing your brain more harm than good. Are you getting at least seven hours of sleep? Are you eating nutritious meals and moving every day?
Although building new habits takes time, they can have a positive impact on your mental well-being. Sometimes lifestyle changes aren’t enough, and therapy may be needed to help you feel better. Companies like BetterHelp and Talkspace can match you with an online therapist, providing affordable private therapy.
4. Find a Support Group
If you’ve been diagnosed with a chronic condition, you may feel as if you’re alone in your situation. Finding a peer support group can help you connect to other people living with the same illness. Furthermore, support groups offer education and advocacy, making it easier to get the information you need to better manage your health.
Many hospitals help run support groups, so start by asking your healthcare provider if there’s one in your area. If there isn’t, your doctor may be able to connect you with an organization that has one. If you live in a rural community or struggle to leave your home, joining an in-person group may be challenging. Many online groups can provide useful information and support.
5. Set Boundaries
Boundaries are important for everyone, but they are especially important if you’re living with a chronic health issue. What you’re capable of taking on may change based on the physical and emotional toll your condition takes. That’s perfectly normal. You just need to be honest with yourself and others about what you can and can’t handle.
The first step in setting boundaries is freeing yourself from guilt. If you need to cancel plans because your symptoms are flaring up, that isn’t your fault. Be open with your friends and family about what you’re able to do. Then let go of everything that worsens your symptoms and make time to take care of yourself.
6. Get the Information You Need
In most areas of life, knowledge is power. This is especially true when living with a chronic condition. The more you know about your illness, the better you’ll be able to manage it.
Learning medical terms and how the parts of your body work together will make it easier to understand your doctor. If your physician says something that doesn’t make sense, ask follow-up questions. They are there to help make this process easier on you.
Finally, when getting information from outside sources, make sure the information is scientifically valid. University and government websites are the best places to gather health-related information since content on their sites is fact-checked.
A chronic condition diagnosis doesn’t need to halt your life. By learning how to manage your symptoms and tending to your mental health, you can confidently interact with the world around you.