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Coping with Chronic Illness


Dec 2014


Dealing with a chronic illness is much more than seeking proper treatment and working with your doctors to get your illness under control. The emotional and mental demands can be overwhelming and it’s important to remember that during this time the best thing you can do for yourself is to be totally in touch with and as aware as possible of your feelings towards the situation.

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Dealing with a chronic illness can interfere with our relationships, our work life, our families, and our self-perception. It can create or exacerbate depression and anxiety, and this can in turn cause trouble in your recovery. This manifests in fatigue, sadness, a negative outlook, irritability, loss of appetite, and loss of sexual desire, and it can show up physically in weight fluctuation, headaches, or bodily pain.

The Emotional Stress

The first thing to know is that it’s completely normal and acceptable to feel the pressure and emotional stress of having an illness. While nurses and doctors generally focus on your physical state, it’s always a good idea to talk to them about the emotional elements that you’re experiencing. Additionally, talking to loved ones about your fears can be very empowering. It gives you an opportunity to share how you feel and also opens the door for them to express what they might be concerned about. This creates a loving environment and enables you to feel understood, and likely more relieved about your feelings. Seeking help is not a sign of weakness, as having a solid support structure can improve your chances of getting better quickly.

Positive Ways to Cope with Stress

Another positive action you can take is to learn as much as possible about your illness. Ask your doctor about it and read positive and uplifting studies about people who have gotten through it. By knowing as much as possible about your condition, you’re more likely to feel as though you have more control of your situation, and empowered to get through it.

Eating a balanced and quality diet will also help during this time. Whole foods rich in omega-3s are excellent in reducing pain from inflammation and are also extremely supportive to brain health. Having a balanced diet will help ground you and revitalize your system, giving it a good dose of nutrients to support you on your journey towards getting better.

Proactively doing things you enjoy can significantly improve your mental and physical health. This can involve reading, spending time with friends and family, practicing hobbies, or simply taking a leisurely stroll around the park. Incorporating pleasurable time into your lifestyle is extremely positive and can really contribute to your overall well-being. Schedule it in and make it a priority.

Taking Control of Stress

Living with a chronic illness is not something that anyone should have to endure. The pain and setbacks it causes can be debilitating, but a key in getting through it all is taking control where you can. Get others involved, ask questions, and manage your lifestyle to support yourself on your journey towards getting better. Know that you are loved and practice loving yourself by taking good care and listening to and respecting your emotions towards your circumstances.

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