Composite image of senior woman disguise as superhero with hand

Experiencing and managing chronic health conditions can be very hard and is sometimes overwhelming. Unfortunately, there are no quick solutions, leaving one wishing for a superhero to come save the day,

Chronic diseases, such as high blood pressure, diabetes or anxiety are defined as a physical or mental health condition that last one year or more, require ongoing medical attention, and limit activities of daily living. Chronic diseases affect six out of 10 Americans, including 1.8 million Oregonians. The most common conditions include persistent pain, heart disease, depression, cancer, arthritis and stroke.

Living with a chronic disease can be debilitating and draining. Without proper support and attention, the symptoms of chronic conditions can spiral into a vicious cycle. Physical or emotional pain can lead to fatigue, which can lead to poor sleep, and then more stress, anxiety or depression. But support is available and with a little help you can develop your own superpowers to aid in managing your condition.

The hardest superpower can be the ability to positively self-manage the symptoms from your chronic condition. Every superhero must start somewhere.

Here are some tips that can empower you to be your best, super-self.

Move and be active. Regular exercise is proven to improve your blood pressure, bone density, blood sugars and overall strength. It also aids in weight management, boosts confidence, and decreases feelings of stress and anxiety.

Exercise does not need to be painful or exhausting. There are plenty of activities that can be helpful for you. Make sure to consult your health care professional to build an exercise plan that is both safe and fun.

You are more than your disease. You are more than your pain, condition and symptoms. Your strengths and abilities should be your defining traits, not your condition. Focus your energy on the small pleasures in life. Continue to do the things you like and want to do, even if that means doing things differently or with some help. If you have the opportunity, give back to your community and volunteer. You have a lot to give and share.

Create a support network. Having a chronic condition, you may feel isolated from others. Don’t let this keep you from your loved ones. By seeking support and resources you will feel more connected to others who may be going through a similar situation. It will also give you more power in managing your chronic condition.

Become your own superhero and feel better. People who take the Living Well workshops spend fewer days in the hospital, have fewer emergency room visits, and they report feeling better.

The Living Well workshops cover topics such as healthy eating, depression management, communication, pain and fatigue, sleep, the symptom cycle, making informed treatment decisions, problem solving, and action planning.

To learn more or to register for an upcoming workshop, visit samhealth.org/HealthEdHub or contact Samaritan Health Education at 1-866-243-7747 or SHSHealthEd@samhealth.org. ☸

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