Live better despite chronic illness, pain


For many people, the start of a new year is a time to leave some habits behind and face the upcoming year with fresh motivation and a set of new commitments.

For those living with a chronic disease or chronic pain, it can be hard to escape the daily challenges. The good news is, regardless of the type of illness, you can build skills and confidence for managing your health, staying active and enjoying your life.

What type of quality of life do you desire? What is important to you and what are your goals?

Prioritize the things that are most important, whether it’s working up your stamina to be able to spend an evening with friends, going out with your loved one for a regular evening stroll, or getting back to an activity, sport or hobby that you enjoyed previously.

Make sure your goals are realistic and clearly stated. You can create an action plan to start taking steps toward accomplishing them.

Here are some tips to get started:

 Get moving. Make life-style changes in the areas of nutrition, exercise, sleep and stress management. For the majority of people managing a chronic illness or pain, this will include activity and movement. Even with the limitations you may experience, there are still many types of movement that are helpful to your overall fitness and may help address some of your symptoms. Work with your health care provider to identify what forms of exercise are safe and effective so you can develop a routine and stick with it.

 Build your support networks. Your best quality of life is reached when you surround yourself with a support team made up of people who have your best interests in mind. This includes family, friends, health professionals and those who are a part of your illness community. This may come in the form of a support group, whether it’s online or in person. Make a commitment to reach out.

 Give back to your family, your community or an organization you support. When you give, you get so much more back. Follow your strengths and interests to support others with similar conditions, raise money for an organization or charity, or volunteer on a committee. Resolve to get involved in something greater than yourself. Making a difference is empowering and fulfilling.

Though many common chronic conditions — such as heart disease, diabetes and arthritis — are unique in their own attributes and demands, they also share common challenges associated with their management. Regardless of the condition, the development of a generic set of skills has proven successful in allowing individuals to effectively manage their illness and improve overall health.

If you are looking for resources and support to help manage your chronic condition or chronic pain, Samaritan Health Services offers free workshops for both.

Living Well with Chronic Conditions and Living Well with Chronic Pain are six-session workshops designed to help people living with chronic conditions to actively identify challenges and solve problems associated with their illness. The skills learned can help improve quality of life, manage chronic symptoms and maintain greater independence.

To learn more or register for an upcoming class, contact Samaritan Health Services at 541-768-6811.

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