Chronic Health Coping: How You Can Manage Health Conditions and Pain
The concept of being happy and healthy while living with a chronic illness or long term health condition seems strange, but it doesn’t mean it isn’t possible. Yes, living with a chronic health condition can be incredibly challenging and can have a significant impact on your lifestyle. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t be happy and otherwise healthy – your medical condition does not have to define your entire life. You can make the most of your life and enjoy it, even when you are living with a chronic health problem. Here, we look at how you can make living with an illness a little bit more manageable.
Prioritize pain management
When you have a chronic condition, such as arthritis, lupus, or celiac disease, it’s essential that you make pain management a priority if and when it is needed. No one wins any medals for trying to struggle through unnecessarily. Make sure that you don’t leave it too long to take pain relief because, by that time, your pain levels can be too high, and you will struggle to get them back under control. As soon as you feel the onset of pain, try to reduce it before it becomes unbearable. Painkillers are the most obvious way of dealing with it, but many people swear by other, more alternative pain management methods such as physio or acupuncture. Therapies that involve heat or ice, or using cold gel packs at home can also be highly effective – it is just a case of finding out what works best for you.
Eat well & stay active
This is easier said than done, we know. When you are feeling unwell, it is much easier to eat comfort food and stay in bed or on the couch watching TV, and getting up and moving about can feel too difficult. However, if you can, doing some gentle activity, even if it is pottering around the garden can make you feel better in yourself, as does eating a healthy and balanced diet.
The key to eating healthily is making meals in batches and freezing them so that on bad days, you have plenty of healthy food in the freezer that just needs to be microwaved. As for snacks, aim to stick to fruit and raw vegetables, and you will feel much better for it.
Celebrate the small wins
No achievement is too small to celebrate. Whether you manage to walk an extra mile compared to normal, can eat a whole meal, or manage to finish that book you have been reading, celebrate! When you suffer from a chronic illness, it’s all about celebrating the small wins. To prevent life and your health from getting you down, it’s important to celebrate the little things as this will help to keep a smile on your face and should lift your mood.
It can be incredibly difficult to deal with your pain on a daily basis, particularly if you are doing it alone. Reach out to those who are in a similar situation to you and can relate to your highs and lows. Look for support groups on the internet or in your local community to help you cope by letting you know you are not alone
Distracting yourself from your discomfort by doing things you enjoy will help you focus on the good things in life. Isolating yourself from others fosters a pessimistic mindset and can heighten your pain perception. Consider joining a local community group or using the internet to find a hobby or leisure activity that makes you happy and allows you to interact with family, friends, or others.
Deal with stress levels
Physical and emotional pain are intertwined, and chronic pain can lead to a rise in stress levels. Learning safe stress management techniques will help you cope more effectively with your chronic pain. You can manage your stress and pain by eating well, having plenty of sleep, and participating in approved physical activity.
Consult a professional
If chronic pain continues to overwhelm you to the point that it prevents you from going about your everyday activities, you can speak with a mental health professional, such as a counsellor, who will help you cope with the physical and psychological effects of your condition.
Coping with chronic health conditions does not have to consume your whole life. While they will not make the symptoms disappear, the above tips will help to make them more manageable.