Coping With The Stress Of Chronic Illness

Reviewed by Phillip Waite, Ph.D.

Stress is a part of everyone's life whether they have a chronic illness or not. Stress happens when changes we are not in control of occur. Having a chronic illness only intensifies the situation. And knowing that you will never be in control of your illness doesn't mean you have to be overwhelmed by it either. There is a middle road you can walk on when things get tough. I discovered this road myself several years ago and often find myself returning to it.

Take the following suggestions with you. You may find them helpful. I have.

1. Accept responsibility. It's your life. No on can live it for you. Family and friends may be able to help, but the responsibility must come from you.

2. Be objective. Take a step back and look at your situation. If you have someone you admire, try and imagine what they would do in your situation and then do it.

3. Know you strengths and weaknesses. Be honest with yourself.

4. Don't try to cope alone. If and when the time comes, turn to friends and family for support.

5. Be positive. The answer you are looking for may not be apparent or easy, but keeping an upbeat frame of mind will make anything easier to deal with

6. Be realistic. You are not "superwoman" (or superman). There will be things you can and things you can't do.

7. Realize that you cannot always be in control. The only way to cope is to withdraw from the problem, relax, and deal with it at a later time.

8. Relax. Things that give you pleasure are the nourishment you need to get you through difficult times.

9. Be flexible. Be willing to try something new if what you've been doing no longer works.

10. Take one step at a time. Approach each problem a step at a time. Start small, and then progress.

11. Learn to laugh. Having a sense of humor brings relief and often a new perspective.

12. Always reward yourself. Living with a chronic illness can be hard. You deserve a reward.

If all else fails, pray. It doesn't hurt to talk to someone who really understands.

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Gretchen Malik is the author of "Healthy Women - A Self-Help Guide for Women"

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