Chronic conditions refer to a range of illnesses defined by the fact that they last for one year or more, impact daily living, and require consistent healthcare management. If you’ve been diagnosed with a chronic illness, you may be wondering what your life will look like in the future. Fortunately, you have more power over your well-being than you probably realize.
Self-Care 4 Caregivers help people improve their mental wellbeing and take control of their lives through emotional self-healing. This guide explains what steps you can take after a chronic illness diagnosis to seize control of the situation and empower yourself.
Get the essential knowledge you need about your condition.
They say that knowledge is power—this is especially true when it comes to chronic condition management. When you receive your diagnosis, you may be in a state of shock. Follow up your initial diagnosis with an informational session with your doctor. Ask them critical queries about your diagnosis, medication, and lifestyle to get a holistic view of your wellbeing.
This is also your chance to talk about treatments. For example, say you’ve been diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, which affects the digestive tract. Your doctor may recommend dietary changes and medication. You can also ask about alternative options. In severe cases, surgery can help, for instance. There are also clinical trials exploring innovative treatments.
Build a healthcare support team you can trust.
Many people with chronic conditions have more than one healthcare provider they see regularly. For example, an individual with Crohn’s might have their primary care physician and a gastroenterology specialist, and a dietician they work with for meal planning. Figure out what experts you will need to best support your path to better health.
The Renegade Nurse Practitioner provides a guide to building your very own healthcare team. You may need to talk to a few different providers before finding the one that best fits your needs and preferences. Further, it’s helpful to ensure collaboration between your healthcare team, such as having medical files shared.
Create a personal care plan and commit to managing your condition.
With your healthcare team in place, you can start crafting your care plan. This is a tailor-made plan you will use to address the various components needed to stay healthy in the face of your illness. It can include points like diet, medications, and exercise. Writing out a concrete plan will make it easier to adhere to a stringent care routine, and to stay motivated to stick to your fitness routine, consider investing in a quality set of headphones or wireless earbuds, which will make sessions fly by as you listen to informative podcasts and favorite workout tunes.
Technology can also help you with your care plan. For example, there are apps that you can download to track metrics like your daily dietary intake and exercise. If you need prescription medications for your ailment, some apps remind you when to take those. Having everything easily accessible via your phone enhances convenience.
Address the mental health fallout of a chronic condition diagnosis.
Getting diagnosed with a chronic illness can be challenging. While your physical health is of paramount concern, beware of the toll this news may have on your mental health. For example, some people experience depression following a chronic illness diagnosis. Familiarize yourself with the symptoms so you can get help if necessary.
It’s also essential to remove any unnecessary stressors in your living space because the home is where you spend most of your time. Be aware of your private surroundings. Is clutter — a proven source of anxiety — ever-present? If so, make a plan to declutter room by room. Is your home sparse when it comes to greenery? Bring a little Mother Nature in by incorporating a few houseplants and even nature photography or artwork. Little steps like these play a significant role when it comes to making your home environment more positive.
Even if you aren’t suffering any serious mental health issues related to your diagnosis, it’s still worth joining a support group. According to the Mayo Clinic, support groups are a valuable source of information and encouragement. In addition, you can get to know others who share your diagnosis and learn how they cope, improving your self-care.
Getting diagnosed with a chronic condition isn’t easy. However, it doesn’t mean your life is ruined. Instead, empower yourself by following the tips above and tackling your condition head-on.
Self-Care 4 Caregivers is affiliated with POCWASN (Parents of Children with All Special Needs), offering tips, ideas, and inspiration to those seeking information on self-care. For information on applying for our helpful services, please email us at info@POCWASN.org!
This article was written by Diane Harrison.
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