Chronic illnesses afflict individuals for prolonged periods of time. The National Health Council reports that more than 40% of Americans suffer from a chronic illness. These diseases can affect people not only physically, but mentally as well since they can lead to increased levels of stress and anxiety.
According to a post by the National Institute of Mental Health, dealing with a chronic illness can increase your likelihood of developing a mental health condition. Coping with this new life can be difficult, but it is important to look out for both your physical and mental well-being. Here are some ways you can do this:
Understand Your Condition
The uncertainty of your condition may lead you to feel stressed or anxious. Thoroughly understanding your condition can help in relieving these uncertainties and bring you more peace and comfort. You can do this by consulting a healthcare professional. They have expert knowledge of your condition and will be able to guide you on learning what your illness entails. It’s even more important for you to understand your illness as you grapple with the pandemic. Dr. Mamta Kothiwale notes how the pandemic can affect those with chronic diseases more than other individuals. Having full knowledge of your sickness will help aid you in living your life with its manifestations.
Practice Mental Relaxation Techniques
When people are stressed and anxious, their mind tends to overthink and go into overload. A way you can counter this is by practicing mental relaxation techniques. These are practices that can easily be done anytime and anywhere. These techniques can range from focusing on your breathing, meditating, guided imagery, and repetitive prayer. The last on the list isn’t just for the religious as these prayers can be simple mantras and affirmations. Doing these techniques for even a few minutes in a day can lead to feeling calmer and less anxious.
Get Active and Moving
Physical activity has long been proven to help keep people both physically and mentally healthy. This is because physical activity releases hormones in your body that promote positive emotions as well as acting as a sedative, decreasing feelings of tension while elevating and stabilizing mood. A short 10-minute walk can help make people feel emotionally better, but getting the recommended amount for your age group will allow you to feel its full benefits. If your condition allows you to do simple exercises, it can make a world of a difference in helping to manage your stress levels when coping with a chronic illness. professional help if you feel like it is something that can help you.
Emotional Support Animals
A more alternative method to managing stress is to have an emotional support animal (ESA). As health website SymptomFind writes, these are animals trained to provide companionship and comfort, especially for those who might be suffering from mental health problems. Junior at Eckerd College Tori Rystrom found that her ESA helped alleviate her anxiety. She even got a second ESA so her companions can keep each other company. More and more students have submitted their requests to let their ESAs be with them on campus to help cope with chronic mood and mental conditions. These animals can offer a lot of comfort in trying times, even for those with chronic illnesses.
Find Community Support
Chronic illnesses are difficult to go through alone. Find people you can turn to for support in trying times. It’s important to be able to garner support from those around you. For one, having people to talk to a
bout how the condition is affecting you mentally and emotionally is just as necessary as treating the condition physically. Teens Chayla Smith and Vi Nguyen say that joining a support group changed their lives, citing it as a way they felt safe to express who they are and how they are feeling. For those with chronic illness, it can have the same effects of feeling heard and cared for. What’s more, it allows you to belong to a community that knows, accepts, and supports you.
Living with a chronic illness can be difficult, but that doesn’t mean your life has to slow down. You shouldn’t let stress and anxiety get in the way of you being able to fully live your life. Make sure to take care of yourself, both physically and emotionally.
Article written by Roanne James
Exclusively for knowyourmeds.com