Living with a chronic illness can feel very isolating, but you’re far from alone. The CDC estimates that about 117 million Americans are living with chronic disease. Cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, cancer and obesity top out the list, but there are almost too many chronic diseases to count.

These diseases impact a person’s quality of life, and they can also cut a life short. This is why it’s so important to take care of yourself.

Here are 6 self-care tips for people living with chronic illness.

Do your homework
Even if you have the best doctor on the planet, your time with him or her is limited. You may see your doctor weekly, monthly or quarterly, and your visits probably don’t span more than 60-minutes in length. Do you think he or she can truly explain everything you need to know about your chronic illness? Unfortunately, the answer is no.

Listen to what your doctor has to say, and then do some research on your own. When you inform yourself, you can become a better patient. At your next visit, you’ll be better equipped to ask more of the right questions, and you’ll start feeling like you’re making more progress with each appointment.

Join a support group
If you can find a local support group that meets in your area, you’re very lucky. Attend meetings and make friends with people who share your chronic illness. They will be able to relate to what you’re going through, and they will offer the best advice from personal experience.

If you can’t find this type of support group, look for support online. Regardless of whether you have a common or uncommon chronic illness, you should be able to connect with others online. Start by searching Facebook Groups to see if there are any active groups for people with your illness.

This isn’t about wallowing. It’s about connecting with people who may understand what you’re going through. You’ll get support on your dark days, and can lift up others when they’re struggling.

Remember to forget
Find something that makes you forget about your chronic illness. It may be a hobby, friendship or an exercise. It may even be multiple things. But once you find it, hold on and don’t let go. Spend as much time as you reasonably can doing these things. Naturally, you don’t want to forget your responsibilities (always keep taking your life-sustaining meds), but it’s good to let loose sometimes.

Depending on the severity of your illness, you may spend a lot of time managing it. Still, it’s important to find some time to forget.

Be kind to yourself
When you’ve been living with a chronic illness for some time, you know your limits. If you don’t yet know them, or if they’ve recently changed, pay careful attention. Try to avoid being hard on yourself. Whether you’re trying to keep up with someone else or just plain overdoing it, stop. Stop comparing yourself to other people, and stop trying to be a superhero.

No one wants to let their disease define them, but there are also times when we need to take it easy. When you feel like it’s time for a break, take one. Even if you need to call in sick to work to do it, make yourself a priority. Naturally, you’ll need to balance time off with your responsibilities, but be sure to be kind to yourself in the process.

Consider alternative treatments
If you’re feeling like there’s more out there for you than managing your disease, start looking at alternative therapies. If you have a bulging disc, for example, consider stem cell therapy. If you’re suffering from heart disease, maybe consider a plant-based diet. Not every treatment is going to fit your condition or lifestyle, but when you start digging, you can find hope in alternatives.

Just be sure to talk to your doctor before making any major diet or lifestyle changes.

When you live with chronic disease, it can feel like a life sentence. But don’t let the chronic nature of your illness get you down. Take it one day at a time, and follow these tips to take care of yourself in the process.

Author's Bio: 

Misty Jhones