Living with a Chronic Health Condition: Reducing Stress

Dealing with stress isn’t easy. You may worry about all the things you have to do, but asking for help might make you upset. And being tired or in pain can make stress worse. Learning to control stress does take effort. Yet reducing stress can help you stay healthy.

Young woman standing outside in sunlight holding water bottle.

Learn to relax

Listening to music, spending some quiet time alone, or taking a warm bath can all be relaxing. But there are many other things that can help you feel calm. Choose activities you enjoy and make them part of your daily life. You may also want to try:

  • Deep breathing. When you feel tense, take a few deep breaths.

  • Meditation, visualization, tai chi, or yoga. You might want to take a class in these techniques. Or check the public library for books and tapes to help you get started.

Set priorities

Try not to worry about things you can’t do. Instead, set goals you know you can achieve. Do the things you think are most important first. Also, look for ways to do things with less effort. Ask yourself:

  • Do I really need to do this today? If the answer is “yes,” take care of that task first. But keep in mind the answer can be “no.”

  • What do I need help with? Is there someone else who can do it?

  • Can I change this appointment or social event to another time?

Finding help

Knowing you can count on others can be a relief. Try these tips:

  • Be willing to accept help when it’s offered.

  • If you need extra help, there are likely to be services nearby. These may include home health aides, and visiting nurses. A social worker can put you in touch with the help you need.

Prepare for down days

Plan ahead for the times when you need to rest more or limit what you do. Freeze prepared meals so you won’t have to cook. Keep a phone and a list of important phone numbers by your bed.


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