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Mental Health and Chronic Illness

Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.” — Albus Dumbledore from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Being diagnosed with a chronic illness can tremendously impact your mental health. Some thoughts that may ruminate in your mind could be dealing with denial, uncertainty, questioning, and grievance of your past “healthy” life. It’s important to remember to take care of your mental health as you start your new journey of taking care of your physical health. Here are some tips with dealing with your mental health as you begin adjusting to your new lifestyle.

•Identify your support system. Ensure you have safe space to talk about your new diagnosis with family or friends. Join a support group.

•Stray away from “Dr. Google”. Consult with your medical team if you have questions about your new diagnosis. Remember to advocate for yourself. Write down questions prior to doctor visits. Inquire from your medical team about appropriate websites to learn about your new diagnosis.

•Ensure you’re taking care of your nutritional needs. Try to incorporate healthy meals and snacks. Ensure you’re hydrating your body with water. Remember, food is fuel for your body.

•Practice mindfulness. Take walks without distractions and pay attention to your surroundings. What do you see, smell, feel, and hear? Incorporate meditation. Start in small 5 minutes increments and focus on your breaths. Remember it’s a practice.

•Ensure you’re compliant with your medication regiment and doctor appointments. Set reminders on your phone to take medications and upcoming doctor appointments, place your medication on bed stand, purchase a medication organizer container, or place post-it notes on the bathroom mirror.

•Practice acceptance. Understanding that with time, you can adjust to your new lifestyle and start your new routine. Remember to be kind to yourself, it takes time for our mind and body to adjust to change. If you are having a difficult time with acceptance and adjusting to your new life, seek a mental health professional.

**Always consult with your doctor prior to starting any new exercise or diet plan.

Sydney Upton, MSW, LGSW


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