How to Live Well with a Chronic Condition
Chronic conditions – such as heart disease, diabetes, obesity, arthritis and Alzheimer’s – are among the most common ailments affecting older Americans. According to the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC), almost half of all adults live with a chronic disease or condition and one in four adults have two or more.
The good news is that many of these conditions are preventable. Risk factors include a sedentary lifestyle, unhealthy eating habits, smoking, and drinking alcohol excessively. Many chronic diseases can be improved with lifestyle changes, such as diet and exercise. In addition to becoming more physically active, focusing on nutrition, and quitting smoking and excessive drinking, here are some lifestyle tips that may help you live more comfortably if you are living with a chronic disease.
Focus on your own needs first
It’s normal for many of us to put other’s needs about our own. But for people suffering from a chronic condition, it’s important to take care of yourself first. A flight attendant will instruct you to put your mask on before assisting others. The same advice applies here. Take care of yourself so you will be better able to participate in the lives of your family.
Be open about what you’re experiencing
Let others know what frustrations, fears and concerns you’re facing. Bottling up your emotions can cause further health consequences, according to a study conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health and the University of Rochester. Additionally, sharing your feelings with family and friends will allow them the opportunity to provide meaningful assistance.
Practice mindful meditation
Mindful meditation has been shown to help in pain reduction and even reducing the risk of death, heart attack and stroke in heart patients. For many people, meditation produces a trance-like state, which allows your body to relax, a condition highly conducive to cell regeneration, blood flow and heart rate. This relaxed state allows the blood to do its work, cleansing the body of pathogens, which can be responsible for many chronic conditions.
Keep a positive attitude
We’ve all heard about the “power of positive thinking.” It turns out that there is a lot of truth in that simple phrase. For instance, if you get a devastating diagnosis, start planning now for ways that changes can provide a better outlook down the road. Taking an active part in creating a better future will prove more beneficial than giving up and accepting a life that is less than optimal. A study by the American Heart Association showed that heart patients with positive attitudes tended to live longer. Positive thinking doesn’t mean you ignore the challenges you’re facing – it simply means you approach those challenges in a more productive and positive way.
Find a purpose in life
People who feel their life has meaning and purpose tend to be healthier and live longer than those who don’t. A study conducted in 2014 discovered that people who reported a greater sense of purpose in life were more likely to outlive their peers. One’s purpose could be as simple as making others happy or contributing to social change.
Finally, learn as much about your condition as you can. There is a plethora of information for nearly all chronic conditions; many have their own organizations that provide the public with information about their condition as well as resourced to help you become healthier. The American Heart Association, Alzheimer’s Association, and the American Arthritis Foundation are just a few of the organizations that help people live well with chronic conditions.