Living with a long-term chronic condition can be mentally challenging.
It’s common for individuals with chronic illnesses to experience mental health challenges and issues such as anxiety and depression. The toll of managing a chronic illness can be exhausting, leaving little energy for self-care and mental health maintenance.
However, managing your mental health is just as important as managing your physical health.
This blog post will explore 7 of the best strategies for managing mental health with a chronic condition.
1) Stay Positive
It’s easy to feel down when dealing with a chronic condition, especially if it’s been going on for a while and has caused you to miss out on things you love or made life more complicated than it used to be.
But one way of coping with this is by focusing on your life’s positive aspects- and there are always some! You might not feel like celebrating small successes, but they’re still successes, so take time each day or week (or month) and give yourself credit for them.
Maybe you’ve been able to go grocery shopping without using your wheelchair; perhaps your doctor approved an experimental treatment; whatever it may be that impacts you personally will help remind yourself that being sick doesn’t mean being unhappy all the time!
2) Find a trusted doctor who takes your mental health seriously and will work with you on it.
You will have to talk about your mental health with your doctor. Finding a doctor who will listen to you, work with you, and be open-minded about alternative treatments is a good idea.
Finding a good doctor is vital in managing chronic illnesses; they can help support and advise on managing your condition and its symptoms.
3) Develop social support networks separate from friends and family who have not experienced chronic illness.
However, if your support network consists solely of people who have not experienced chronic illness themselves, they may not be able to fully grasp why certain things are so hard for you.
It’s essential to have a support network that understands what it feels like when your body doesn’t work how it used to or when simple tasks become overwhelming challenges.
4) Ask yourself whether you need more help than what the medical system can provide right now.
People with chronic illnesses often feel disconnected from their bodies or constantly anxious due to their condition. You’re not just imagining these things!
You may also find it helpful and beneficial to seek out therapy if talking through issues works better than journaling. Having one-on-one conversations with friends can help you feel more grounded and less overwhelmed by them daily.
Asking for a bit of help is not a sign of weakness but rather one way to take control of your health and well-being.
5. To help in managing mental health, talk about your feelings to people you trust.
When stressed, it’s easy to feel like nobody understands your situation.
But just because someone doesn’t have the same chronic condition as you doesn’t mean they can’t empathise with what you’re feeling and help you cope with the challenges of managing your mental health amid a chronic condition.
Take advantage of the support system around you.
6. Limit the time you spend reading or watching the news.
A way to manage your mental health is limiting your time reading or watching the news.
The media can be a great source of information, but it can also make us feel worse about our lives.
For example, if you read an article that says your chronic condition is “incurable,” it might make you feel hopeless and depressed. If that happens often enough, it can make it difficult for you to see any positives in your life or take care of yourself as well as you should.
7. Get enough sleep and have a routine.
This is a big one. When dealing with a chronic condition, it’s easy to feel like you don’t have the energy to do anything, let alone make an effort to get enough rest. But getting enough sleep is an important item you can do.
You may not feel like it, but sleep helps your body heal itself and can help regulate your immune system.
A good night’s sleep helps you stay energised throughout the day, while a morning routine will help you get into a rhythm that will help you feel more productive, less stressed, and more focused on what matters to you.
So when you’re tired or sick, stick to a routine. An example would be: going to sleep at the same time daily (each night) and waking up almost the same time each morning. Try getting 7-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep every night.
But having some kind of structure will help give you clarity and structure during an otherwise chaotic time in your life.
This will also help keep your anxiety down since having a clear plan will give you something else to focus on besides how much pain or discomfort you’re experiencing at any given moment.
Chronic illness is a complicated thing to deal with, and there’s no one right way to do it.
What works for one person with a chronic illness might not work for another. The most important thing is to find what works for you — whether that means taking medication, getting therapy sessions every week, or just talking things out with friends over coffee now and then.
But don’t be afraid to ask for help if something feels off or overwhelming!
Your mental health matters, too, when managing chronic conditions.