If you are dealing with a long-term health issue or a chronic condition, it is important that you keep up with your doctors and your physical health. However, your physical health is not the only thing that you need to focus on. Your mental health and your physical health go hand and hand. Dealing with a long-term health problem or chronic condition can put a tremendous strain on your mental health. These tips can help you care for your mental health.
1. Anxiety Triggering Thoughts
A big part of dealing with a chronic or long-term illness is the fear of the unknown that affects your mental health. Learn all you can about your disease and speak to people that can help you navigate what to expect. Avoid consulting with sources that are not experts in your disease or condition. It can, in many cases, give you more to worry about.
To help reduce feelings of anxiety and improve your mental health, learn all you can about treatment options, alternative treatments, and the progression of the disease. The more you know about what to expect the less you will feel anxious.
2. Find Your Tribe
Chronic illness has many unseen factors. For example, your inability to participate in certain activities, or struggling on a “bad day” when you seemed fine yesterday. It is not that the people that love you do not want to understand, but you may look “fine” and it may be difficult for them to comprehend good days and bad days.
One of the ways you can find support is to find people that are going through what you are going through. According to the American Cancer Society, about 3,000 new cases of cancer are diagnosed each year (excluding skin cancer). If you have been diagnosed with cancer, it can be comforting to know that there are a lot of people in your position. Join a support group where you can share your fears with them and learn about how other people are dealing with it.
There are support groups for every disease and condition. For example, while most people do not think of Legionnaires’ disease as something prevalent, according to the CDC, every year between 8,000-18,000 people are hospitalized for this disease and left to deal with the long-term fallout. There is a support group out there for every type of long-term chronic illness. Find your group.
3. Make a Goal List
It can be easy to get stuck inside your own head when you have a chronic condition or a long-term illness. One of the ways you can overcome only thinking about the illness and improve your mental health is to make a daily goal list. The list does not have to be a long list or contain lofty goals. Create a list of the things you hope to accomplish every day even if it is only to get up and take a shower or go for a walk.
Having other goals to focus on is good for your mental health. As you accomplish your goals every day you will develop more confidence and start feeling better mentally. Focusing on things other than your illness is good for your mental health and will give you the drive to keep moving forward.
4. Get Your Affairs In Order
Worrying about the future and what will happen to your family is a big stressor. Getting your affairs in order by drawing up an estate plan will help you to have peace of mind and improve your mental health. According to the American Bar Association, one out of three people reported that the COVID pandemic helped them to see how important an estate plan is, but about 31% of those that did see the need for an estate plan never followed through.
Having an estate plan in place will help you worry less. You cannot focus on the now and work on improving your mental health if all you think about is the “what ifs”. Let an attorney help you take control of your estate and ensure your wishes are carried out after you are gone.
Improving your mental health can improve your physical health. Don’t neglect your feelings and your mental health. Get the help you need today.