7 Tips for Balancing Chronic Illness and Your Home Life

7 Tips for Balancing Chronic Illness and Your Home Life

Chronic illness affects every member of the family. It disrupts family life, puts a strain on finances and creates painful emotions. Nevertheless, it is possible to maintain a positive atmosphere as you cope and manage life at home.

Here are seven tips to help family members meet the challenges brought upon by chronic illness.

Revise Expectations of Family Life.

Family life will no longer resemble what it used it be or what you once expected it to be. You can still be there for your family but adjustments will have to be made. In order to move on and to change your life path, you need let go of the expectations you once had for yourself and for loved ones. Holding on to the idea of the lives we had or planned doesn’t allow us to live in the present and to handle what is real.

Learn to Put Your Needs Ahead of Others.

Putting your needs ahead of children and a spouse is a tough choice, but it is a necessary one. While our families need us, they also need us to be strong, healthy and around for the long term. In order to do that, we must care for ourselves and learn to put our health first.

Deal with Fatigue and Symptoms.

Different treatment options will help you to ease fatigue and symptoms. Light daily exercise and decreasing your workload will help you to reduce and manage stress. Your workload should be at a level that helps you to balance your health alongside your life and family demands.

Ask for Help.

Asking for help and accepting help can be a challenge for many people with chronic illness. But there are big benefits to accepting help. These include decreasing isolation when you are part of a support community, getting the help you need, such as getting to appointments or getting your home cleaned, and allowing others to feel useful. Remember, help is available but you have to be willing to seek it and ask for it.

Manage Finances.

It is important to be constantly aware of your family’s financial situation. You should learn all you can about your medical insurance so as to keep medical costs low. Talk to your doctor if you are struggling to pay for medications because he or she can offer medication samples, write prescriptions for generics, and even offer information about medication assistance programs. Moreover, you should prioritize your bills and expenses and always pay bills on time to avoid late fees. Last, balance your checkbook and keep track of your spending so you do not overstretch your finances.

Consider Chronic Illness Counseling.

Chronic illness counseling can help people cope with the emotional challenges brought on by their diseases. Living with a chronic condition can disrupt daily routines, overstretch family finances and create conflicts. Further, patients and their family members can struggle with depression and anxiety as a result of chronic illness’s affect on their daily lives. Counseling can help the household deal with the initial shock of the diagnosis, teach stress reduction and coping strategies and improve self-esteem.

Be Open to a Positive Experience.

Life can be still be positive despite the challenges brought on by chronic illness. Because chronic illness is here for the rest of our lives, it is important to have a positive outlook. Positive living might seem difficult but it is necessary for coping and avoiding depression. Being open to a positive experience allows you think positively about your disease and your life. You decide to cherish life and you start living rather than wallowing in self-pity. You make the choice to look at life differently and you rearrange your plans so you can still accomplish what you need and want out of life. Remind yourself that everything happens for a reason and that you can still have control of your life. In thinking positively, you are working toward a better quality of life for yourself and your loved ones.

Originally posted at Arthritis Connect.

5 Ways I Used Chronic Illness to Better My Life

5 Ways I Used Chronic Illness to Better My Life

Living with chronic illness and finding ways to make your life better requires an approach that is both realistic and positive. “Wait,” you might think, “How does one use chronic illness to better their life?” It is possible.

My Coping Strategies

Here are the five ways I have used chronic illness to improve my own life.

1. I allowed myself to grieve and heal.

I recognized that grief is just as important as healing. I allowed myself to grieve the loss of being healthy and having an identity of good health. I have mourned and I have permitted myself to feel denial, anger, frustration and sadness. I knew all these emotions were an important part of working towards healing and finding a better quality of life despite chronic illness.

I also learned that healing is both physical and emotional. Often times, we need more than just medicine to help our bodies get to a better state of health. Having a meaningful and rewarding life often requires recognizing that healing is all around us. We must allow ourselves to heal by connecting to nature, to God or with people who can help us to rebuild our inner strength and mend our souls.

2. I chose to appreciate life.

Having had my life changed by chronic illness in my early 30s, I know all too well the value of appreciating all life has to offer. Former President John F. Kennedy once said, “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” I know that even if I cannot find a reason to appreciate chronic illness, I can still appreciate the ways that it has changed my life for the better. This is because chronic illness becomes a way of life that allows you to see what really matters, how important loved ones are and how to find blessings in the smallest of life’s gifts.

3. I chose to accept what I could not control and to control what I could.

I have allowed myself to accept that chronic illness is just one part of my life. Accepting it does not mean I hate my life or that I give in to my diagnoses. It means that I choose to feel my emotions about my illnesses while I work to manage my health and enjoy a different, yet good quality of life. I have learned that by building acceptance for what is out my hands and for being compassionate towards my experiences, I can redevelop myself. Moreover, I have found strength I never knew I had before.

Living with chronic illness may have closed some doors for me but it has also brought with it many unanticipated opportunities. Further, it has allowed me to take inventory of the standards I set for myself and of the goals I strive to achieve. I know what is important in my life and how to commit myself towards my goals. Last, I am well aware of the possibility of unexpected stress or medical problems that may arise and interfere with my ambitions. In being conscious to potential problems, I am able to better accept what I cannot control and to better control what I can.

4. I took control of my health.

While I recognize that my body and health are mine, chronic illness has, on numerous occasions, made me feel like a victim of circumstance. Self-pity does not make anything better and I was not able to truly take control of my health until I came upon this realization. If you are not getting a proper diagnosis or your medications are not working, it is your responsibility to do what is best for you. After all, taking charge of your wellbeing is the key to happiness and healing.

5. I reached out and served others.

I made a choice from day one to reach out so that I did not feel isolated. There are countless individuals who understood my fears and challenges and who have a wealth of knowledge and experience to offer. Deciding to reach out is your choice alone and it is something no one else can do for you. There are numerous support groups in your local community and online which offer a connection to support and resources for working towards a better quality of life despite chronic illness.

I also choose to serve others struggling with similar challenges brought upon by chronic illness. In doing so, I found that my own burden of feeling alone was lessened and I was creating new friendships and strengthening old ones. By finding ways to help others in your local community, online, and/or your church, you can make a difference in your life and the lives of others. As you share and help, your love and compassion will increase and you will find that your own trials are easier to bear.

Bettering Your Life

Tough times bring out the worst and the best in all of us. Choosing to allow chronic illness to better us is winning half the battle. In reality, none of us can change our circumstances, but we can choose to decide what living well and being better means to us.

Originally posted at Arthritis Connect.

How To Get Started With Today’s Popular Diets – Paleo and Gluten Free – Guest Post

Summer may be drawing to a close, but that doesn’t mean you still don’t have time to lose a few pounds for swimsuit weather! Two of the hottest diets out there today are the paleo diet and the gluten free diet. Both have their benefits, and ultimately, the type of diet you choose will be determined by your lifestyle and food preferences. Check out the quick overview of each and a few tips for getting started.

Paleo diet

This diet can be boiled down to one phrase: if a caveman couldn’t eat it, neither can you. The diet focuses on organic products devoid of processing that a caveman could have hunted, picked, gathered or fished. Meats, fish, nuts, fresh vegetables, eggs, oils, fruits and seeds all play a huge part in the paleo diet. Grains, like most cereals and pasta, are out, as are sugars and all processed foods. The paleo diets states that because these foods are so filling and nutritious, you can eat as much as you want of them (within reason) and still lose weight.

How to get started:

Purge your home of all the foods that are off limits on this diet. This includes cookies, cereals, potato chips, candy and other processed goods. Pantry items often have a long shelf life, so donate what you can’t eat to your local food pantry.

Start a diet plan.  There are many diet plans out there that can help you kick-start a paleo diet with meal plans, advice and encouragement to help you stay accountable as you start on your paleo journey.

Remember that you’ll have a transition period as your body gets used to this new way of eating. The first two weeks of a paleo diet may leave you feeling tired, weak and sluggish. Sticking with the program can help you get through the slump and on your way to a healthier lifestyle.

Gluten Free diet

Gluten is a protein complex found in wheat, barley, rye and oats. An allergy to gluten can cause celiac disease, which is a gastrointestinal ailment known for abdominal pain, weight loss and loose stools. The gluten-free diet is one of the only medically accepted treatments for this disease, but individuals without a gluten allergy have found more energy and a healthier lifestyle by going gluten-free. A gluten-free diet sticks with beans, fresh eggs, fresh meats, fruits and vegetables and dairy, and avoids any foods with barley (including malt or malt flavoring) rye, and wheat.

How to get started:

Clean out your kitchen and pantry and get rid of foods that contain wheat, barley, rye and oats. Donate items that can still be used to a food pantry. Check labels; some foods may be labeled “gluten-free” and are still acceptable on this diet.

Visit the grocery store and check the assortment of gluten-free labeled products on the market. You will be surprised how many manufactures have jumped on the gluten-free bandwagon and offer anything from waffles to pizza gluten-free. Learn to read the labels to find out exactly what is in the food that you buy.

Go shopping and stock up on fresh produce and meats. Try some fruits or vegetables that are new to you, or prepare them in different ways. Another option is to take a trip to a Farmer’s Market, where fresh food shopping can be a fun outing.

Amanda is a social media manager for a health care organization by day and a blogger and freelance writer by night. She’s also a mom to an amazing 2 year-old boy and wife to a great guy who indulges all her celebrity gossip. Amanda loves coffee, fashion, Twitter, makeup, nail polish, and cats (not always in that order.) Her work has been published on family.com and blogher.com. She also writes for many websites, including NOW Foods. For more celebrity gossip, fashion, beauty and DIY, visit Amanda’s blog, It’s Blogworthy (http://itsblogworthy.com) or follow her on Twitter and Google+.