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Living with chronic Illness: Ten steps to emotional health.

Did you know that May is Mental Health Month? Mental health is important to overall health and well-being. Having a chronic illness can bring feelings such as fear, sadness, and anxiety.

"Will I get better?" "How will my condition affect my daily life?" and "Will I need help from others," are just a few concerns you might have if you're unsure about your illness.

People with a chronic illness are more likely to suffer from depression, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). Mental health issues are both treatable and curable.

so that you can live better with your condition. Care for both physical and emotional well-being can help you cope better with chronic diseases.

Here are some pointers to help you get there:

  1. Understand your condition: Having the knowledge and information to make sound judgments and decisions can help you feel stronger – which is critical to your illness's management.

  2. There are many types of providers. You want to find one that is a good fit for you. It is important that you feel comfortable asking questions and expressing yourself. You can explore a trusted teaching hospital or contact your insurance company to find a provider. You can also talk to others with the same condition to get recommendations.

  3. Speak to your provider about your emotional health: A positive mental attitude is crucial to the success of your treatment. A health care provider should know how you feel physically and emotionally to help you make informed decisions. Managing a chronic illness can increase stress in your life as well as affect your overall well-being. Depression and anxiety might make it more difficult to manage and heal.

  4. Your roles can change due to a chronic illness: Chronic diseases can change your priorities and affect your sense of self and identity. Your roles may change in areas such as work, school, relationships, family planning, and caregiving, or you might need some care. You may experience feelings about these changes and want to consider talking with someone you trust.

  5. Define your circle of support; know whom you can count on: At some point in your life, you may discover that you need assistance with particular activities or emotional support. Family, friends, neighbors, support groups, religious/spiritual communities, and healthcare professionals might be required for various reasons. Consider carefully what you require before making any decisions.

  6. Acknowledge that chronic illness may present limitations and challenges: This can be hard and requires some self-compassion. It involves recognizing the need to care for yourself without shame or guilt. Is it reasonable to do it all on your own or to delegate and ask for help? Perhaps you might not have the energy to do everything on your “to-do” list in a given day. Give yourself permission to cross off the items on the bottom and save them for another day.

  7. Identify what is important to you and gives your life meaning and purpose: The aim for others may be relationships with family, friends, love, and volunteerism. Some people seek significance through religion or spiritual beliefs. Explore what you care about and add meaning to your life.

  8. Mindfulness is often recommended as a way to manage stress: Mindful-based therapies have helped people cope with pain and stress, according to studies. Concentrate on the present moment. 10 minutes of peaceful reflection, deep breathing, or guided imagery may help you relax and accept stressful situations better. Take time out to listen to music, relax, and recall happy memories.

  9. Exercise is an essential part of physical and emotional health: Recent studies show that exercise improves your mood. Before starting any exercise program, remember to consult your provider, and go at your own pace.

  10. Your spirit needs to find ways to have joy and goals, both big and small: Make time for something that makes you proud to live. Make an effort to meet a friend or loved one for a cup of coffee; or take a walk in the park, focusing on the sights, colors, and sounds around you.

When we talk about health, we mean we should think about the whole person. We should use the tools, resources, and activities that benefit both our minds and our bodies.


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