Healthy You - Every Day

Four Tips for Coping With a Chronic Illness

Take these steps to improve and maintain your quality of life

Chronic Illness - Take these steps to improve and maintain your quality of life

When it comes to sickness, it’s common to think that medications and treatments will offer a cure. While that is the case for some conditions, some illnesses and their symptoms cannot be completely resolved.

Known as chronic illnesses, these conditions and disabilities can impact various aspects of life, including personal relationships, job performance and future plans.

“A chronic illness can be defined as any long-term condition that affects your life or activity in some way,” says licensed psychologist Mary Kaland, PhD, with LVPG Adult and Pediatric Psychiatry–1259 Cedar Crest. “Coping with a chronic illness can be hard, but you are not alone. There are also steps you can take to improve and maintain your quality of life.”

To offer support to those facing chronic illnesses, Kaland shares her go-to tips:

Tip one: Become an expert on your chronic illness

“If you’ve been diagnosed with a chronic illness, the best thing you can do is learn everything there is to know about it,” Kaland says. “Knowing the symptoms, progression and treatments not only allows you to be an informed participant in your care, but also helps you know your limitations and be able to better communicate your needs.”

Writing down lists of questions before your medical appointments can help ensure you don’t forget to ask them when you are with your clinician. You also can ask your care team for resources they recommend for at-home research about your chronic illness.

Tip two: Practice self-care and accept your limitations

It’s important for everyone to listen to and take care of their bodies, but it’s especially important for people with chronic illnesses.

“This is because individuals with chronic health issues often have less energy than others, and not being well hydrated, fed or rested can have a further negative impact on their quality of life,” Kaland says.

Limiting the number of tasks and chores you plan to complete in a day, which is known as “pacing,” can help you preserve the energy you need to get everything done throughout the week. You may find it helpful to only book a certain number of commitments so you don’t exhaust yourself.

“The most important thing is not getting frustrated with yourself if you cannot do all of the things you used to,” Kaland says.

Tip three: Develop a chronic illness toolkit

“Identifying coping strategies, hobbies and physical items that can support your well-being is crucial for thriving with a chronic illness,” Kaland says.

Depending on your diagnosis and symptoms, you may find canes, hearing aids, wheelchairs or other physical aids helpful. For relaxation, some people facing chronic illnesses practice yoga, breathing exercises or mindfulness.

Empowered Relief

Empowered Relief

LVHN is proud to offer Empowered Relief, a free two-hour pain management class that helps you learn how to address chronic pain that interferes with your ability to enjoy life.

“Everyone, and every illness, is different,” Kaland says. “Identifying the physical aids and relaxation techniques that are best for you is key. It’s also good to know that regular practice of some form of relaxation or mindfulness is important to overall well-being.”

Tip four: Identify your support system and trusted care team

Getting support from loved ones, friends and co-workers can make a big difference as you navigate life with a chronic illness. What’s just as important is finding a trusted care team knowledgeable about your condition.

“It’s also worth considering mental health resources and support groups, which can provide other opportunities for support and connect you with people going through something similar,” Kaland says. “It’s important to know that throughout your journey, you are never alone.”


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