One of the biggest challenges of living with a chronic illness can be juggling ongoing treatment and enjoying life. Living with a continuous health condition often means that there will be great days, good days and days that are more limited. Balancing life around the symptoms of a health challenge can be possible by making a few adjustments.
Anyone can struggle with staying organized, but people living with chronic illness often stand to benefit the most from being well-organized. If your ongoing health requires daily medications taken at specific times, try using an inexpensive pill container to help manage that process. Maybe your care regimen requires meals on a certain schedule. Consider stocking or preparing meals ahead of time so that you aren’t having to fix something to eat when you might not feel like cooking.
One of the most important aspects of being prepared when you have a health challenge can be to have easy access to all your necessary documents. An alert bracelet can be especially helpful in case of an emergency. Consider creating a folder or digital record that contains important numbers like primary doctors, pharmacies and loved ones to notify along with copies of insurance and identification cards. Sharing that information with a trusted friend or family member can simplify getting help when needed.
Gather a Support Network
Everyone needs a support system, and those experiencing chronic illness are in particular need of caring people who can help ease their ongoing struggle by offering emotional and tangible encouragement. Though family members are often the primary providers of caregiving, it’s important to broaden your horizons. Creating an extended network of friends and service providers who can help with driving, errands or just having coffee on occasion can go a long way towards maintaining a good quality of life.
Plus, many insurance plans offer contact centers for their healthcare services that can provide help and other services to patients. These centers often include free 24-hour nursing consultation as part of their benefits, which can be a real lifeline for a chronically ill patient.
Another important aspect of managing a chronic illness is taking care of your emotional well-being. Perhaps you are not able to be as active as you once were, but keeping in contact with friends can be vital to self-care. At the very least, try to schedule weekly activities that you enjoy. There are also many support groups that meet to discuss living a full life with a chronic illness. Staying as physically active as you are able to can also be important to managing your health condition. On days when you are feeling strong, try to go outside to take a short walk or see a movie with a friend. Isolation and loneliness do not have to be part of life with a chronic illness.
Change Your Mind If You Need To
The reality of life with a chronic illness is that you need to know your limits. Maybe your symptoms are unpredictable and often impact plans you have with friends and family. Regular communication can help everyone in your life understand your condition better and be more supportive when you suddenly must cancel an event. The people in your life can be your champions if they know how to help. Try not to worry about how your loved ones will react when you need to change your mind about an evening out. Gently remind them that you want to participate but physically can’t. Most people will understand when given the opportunity.
Whatever the circumstances of your continuing medical challenges, advocating for yourself is probably the best tool for managing your life. Reliable health care with an active medical team, a loving network of friends and family, and enjoying what you love when you can are all important. These resources can mean the difference between managing your illness or letting it manage you.