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Coping With Chronic Illness: Reducing Stress Associated With Chronic Diseases


Thanks to today’s medical technology and advanced healthcare, our life expectancy now exceeds 70 years old. In the past, men were able to live up until their 50s and women in their middle 20s. For the elderly, the leading causes of death are chronic diseases. This is not to say that only adults can have chronic illnesses.

Being diagnosed with a long-lasting and usually incurable disease is definitely bad news. No one wants to live the rest of their lives depending on the medication, treatments, and an extensive need for extreme lifestyle changes. This shows just how your new diagnosis gives your daily life a new layer of stress.

Before, you could only be facing everyday challenges like making it to work on time, providing for the family, etc. With chronic illness added to the mix, you could be facing major discomfort, pain, and even wrecked personal finance. How can you cope after finding out that you have a chronic disease?

How Many People Are Fighting Chronic Diseases?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, six in one adult in the U.S. live with a chronic disease. About four in ten U.S. adults have two or more chronic conditions. Such big numbers show that many people are actually fighting chronic diseases.

Some of the usual mistakes people make which often lead to chronic diseases are poor nutrition, lack of physical activity, tobacco use, and alcohol use. The following are the leading causes of death and disability in the U.S.

  • Cancer
  • Heart Diseases
  • Stroke
  • Chronic Lung Disease
  • Diabetes
  • Chronic Kidney Disease
  • Alzheimer’s Disease

Even kids can have chronic illnesses. In the U.S. alone, more than 40% of adolescents and school-aged kids have one chronic health condition. Like adults, they require complex and continuous lifestyle changes, treatments, and medications to cope. Some usual chronic health conditions common to children are obesity, diabetes, epilepsy, and asthma.

Coping With Stress Induced by Chronic Illnesses

Finding out that you or a close loved one has a chronic disease can make you feel like the world has already condemned you. Despite your efforts to live a healthy lifestyle, chronic illness can still ruin your life. How you choose to manage your diagnosis will depend on your ability to cope with stress.

To help you cope with the stress that comes with managing chronic diseases, consider the following tips.

Educate Yourself

Allow your curiosity to help you manage your disease. You may have the best doctor who is currently helping you with your newfound diagnosis. But it becomes crucial that you allow yourself to explore your options and consider which one will best benefit you.

For instance, you are now battling chronic kidney disease and require regular dialysis for the rest of your life. Instead of simply allowing yourself to travel a few hours each day just to reach the nearest dialysis center, why don’t you check your options? There now exist many hospitals with partnerships for hemodialysis management services.

This means even the nearest rural hospital can now offer dialysis services to patients living in rural areas. Since you no longer need to travel far just to get your dialysis treatment, you can reduce physical strain and mental stress. This will give you more time to rest and enjoy your days despite your regular dialysis.

Stay Away From Vices

Many people with chronic illnesses get so stressed out that they resort to alcohol and substance abuse to cope. Instead of drowning yourself in alcohol and drugs, choose to be a better person and stay away from such vices. Remember that while these may help you forget your condition for a while, they will never offer any help in managing your disease.

Find other ways to cope with stress without resorting to drugs and alcohol. Consider pursuing a hobby or an activity you’ve always wanted to try that won’t exacerbate your symptoms. These are a better way to keep yourself busy instead of relying on drugs and alcohol.

Find Yourself a Support System

Know that you are never really alone in fighting your battle. You have family and friends willing to look after you during your most vulnerable times. Stop thinking you can manage everything on your own and ask for help as needed.

There are also support groups you can join to help you cope with your specific diagnosis. These groups are willing to help you emotionally, mentally, and sometimes financially. Remember that social support can be of great help in battling your disease.

Chronic illness can mean ongoing challenges both physically, mentally, emotionally, and financially. Such a stressful diagnosis can only add to your daily stress. Allow yourself to cope with the help of this short guide.

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