Living with Chronic Illness -
Health Management Skills

Living with chronic illness requires a new set of health management skills.

It is unlikely that anyone teaches you these skills or even acknowledges the need for them. Yet they can be vital for finding health within illness and can increase your chances of improvement or recovery.

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At a time when you are dealing with the shock of feeling ill, and the losses that come with illness, the last thing you probably want is to learn to do things in a new way.

I expect that all you want to do is be healthy and go back to your old ways!
All I can say is that you may find these skills well worth acquiring:

  • These health management skills help you to live a bigger life with chronic illness. 
  • These health management skills may help you to gain peace of mind and manage your health in a way which makes recovery from illness more likely. 
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Happily I am no longer living with chronic illness at a level of being bedbound with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome /ME.
I am back to being able to walk and talk.
Yet I continue to apply and learn! most of these skills today.

You are here reading this because you are someone who is willing to learn in a time of chronic illness.
You can do it. You can learn health management skills.
Keep making the effort for yourself. You are worth it.

And be gentle on yourself. Always be gentle on yourself.

I hope you find the article helpful.

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Contents for Coping with Chronic Illness

Other related articles

  • Manage your energy and mobility.
    Pacing and switching are essential health management techniques for those living with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and important for those living with many other chronic illnesses too.
  • An important aspect of living well with chronic illness is to have a good diet.
    Click here for advice on a diet for
    Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
    Know that those with CFS/ME have different needs.
    Also that other chronic illnesses may benefit from a different diet.
Skills for coping with chronic illness

Prioritise your most important relationships

When I was living with severe disability I could only see a few people.
I needed to put my energy into the relationships which helped me the most and/or drained me the least.

The people in your life who give you the most deserve to have your energy.
And - to put it bluntly - you need these people.

(I define “help you” very broadly. For example, if it helps your sense of worth to help someone else, and you are well enough to do so, then it may "help" you to be helpful.)

Sometimes a person may offer practical help , yet it comes at an emotional cost.
Another person may feed you emotionally but not feel able to help in a practical way.
Do your best to work out what is available and what you need.

Click here for an article on romantic relationships and illness

Move to TOP

Releasing judgment on your behaviour helps you to be gentle on yourself

In the following sections an affirmation is included for coping with chronic illness, for example, I can learn to rest.
This affirmation is followed by a series of “release statements”. These statements begin with the words “It's OK to...”.

Releasing Judgment is a simple practice of forgiveness and permission I developed back in 1993.  This simple technique has played a huge role in allowing me to cope with chronic illness.

You can click through for my free ebook which explains more about Releasing Judgment.

If you haven't read the book yet, simply read the release statements and notice whether you have an emotional response.
If you do, the statement is likely to be one which is relevant to you.

Repeat the release statements as needed to give your conscious and unconscious mind permission to behave in ways which help you to cope well with chronic illness. 

If the releases help you, bookmark this page and return here when you need to do so.

I can learn to rest

It’s OK to rest.
It’s OK not to push yourself as hard as you can go.
It’s OK to recognise that when you take regular rest your symptoms are lower and you have a better quality of life.
It’s OK to recognise that your body needs rest in order to heal.
It’s OK to give your body the rest it needs.
Well done for finding self love and the compassion to be kind to yourself.

Click here for a CFS article on pacing activity.

I can learn to say No

It's OK to say No.
It's OK to say No to something which you would say yes to in a time of health.
When you are not well enough to do something useful which needs doing, it's OK to say No.
When you are not well enough to engage in a fun activity it's OK to say No.

I can receive help

It's OK to receive help.
It's OK for someone else to receive help.
It's OK for you to receive help.

As well as asking for help from other people, you may want to benefit from the help of disability aids to help you live a bigger life with chronic illness. I live with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and I use a mobility scooter.

Image links through to a page where you can buy a greetings card for someone living with severe chronic illness

I can ask for what I need
I can communicate what I need

It's OK to ask for what you need.
It's OK to communicate clearly what you need.

Many people have communication problems as a symptom of CFS/ME.
If you are one of them and need adaptation from others, click through on the link above for advice.

I can feel okay about hearing someone say No

It's OK to find it hard to ask for help and to hear someone say No.
It's OK to feel rejected.
It's OK to feel that the person doesn't care about your well being.
It's OK to receive comfort from the fact that if someone can say No, their Yes must be genuine.
It's OK to be glad that they know how to look after their own needs.
It's OK to be inspired by their example to look after your own needs.
It's OK to feel free to ask again.
Well done for finding the courage to ask for something you need from someone who may say No because they are the only person available.
It's OK to use your judgment and ask for help (when possible) from someone likely to say Yes.

Time management- I can manage my time

It's OK not to have energy-time for things you used to be able to do.
It's OK to find that in a time of illness you have to prioritise more carefully.
It's OK to feel frustrated if someone doesn't understand that you don't have the energy-time you once had.

It's OK to feel frustrated if someone is disrespectful of the energy-time you have available. 

It's OK to DUMP an activity.
It's OK to DELEGATE an activity.

It's OK to DELAY an activity.
It's OK to DO an activity.
Well done that, even when you can't do much, you still find time to do something you what you want to do.

I can delegate

It's OK for someone to do something for someone else.
It's OK for you to do something for someone else.
It's OK for someone to do something for you.
Well done for finding the management skills necessary to organise someone to do something for you.

There is so much more I could say about coping with chronic illness but I hope you have received some helpful permissions here.

Be gentle with yourself.
Stop and praise yourself for all that you do so well under difficult circumstances.
You are learning and you are growing.
Thank you for being you.

Other healing articles relevant to coping with chronic illness

Click below to read about my (Katherine's) take on Alternative Healing.

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© Katherine T Owen. All articles on this website are copyrighted. I am delighted if you choose to click above to share this page on social media, but please do not copy, print or otherwise use without my permission. Thank you.

Disclaimer: I am not a medical practitioner. The articles on this website are not to be taken as medical advice. Please consult a medical practitioner as necessary.

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