The regular holiday hustle and bustle is stressful enough, but when you add a serious chronic illness to the mix, life can be extra challenging. The cut-and-paste New Year’s resolutions we all fall back on like losing weight might apply to your situation, but there are a few other resolutions for those facing chronic illness to consider.
1. Give Yourself a Break
When you’re juggling a chronic illness and regular life, it can be difficult to find a moment to relax – but you should. Set aside a specific time when you can do something that gives you joy; talking to an old friend, getting your nails done or reading a book are great ways to unwind.
Another way to get a break is to ask for help. For many people, asking for help is one of the hardest things they’ll ever have to do. But you might be surprised at how many of your friends and family will be happy to have a specific task they can do to make things easier for you.
Finding a space where like-minded individuals are going through the same thing you are, like a support groups, is another good way to relax and talk about your struggles with people who will understand. Ask your doctor for local support group options or check online with an awareness group specific to your illness like the American Cancer Society, American Heart Association, Alzheimer’s Association or American Lung Association.
2. Advocate for Yourself
One of the best resolutions people facing a chronic illness can do for themselves is to become their own health advocate. Start by learning everything you can about your options, beginning with your health insurance. Make a point of understanding at least the basics of your coverage. If a procedure or prescription is denied, ask why and see if the decision can be changed. Sometimes it’s just a simple coding error that can be easily corrected.
Don’t just question health insurance providers; ask your doctor to explain all your options and the goal of each treatment as well. Make sure you’re on the same page about how the treatment will impact your quality of life. If you’re nervous about asking questions or afraid you’ll forget something, write your questions down in advance.
Finally, get your healthcare paperwork in order. Whether it’s an advance directive, a medical power of attorney or a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) order, the best way to ensure your medical wishes will be respected is to put them in writing. Even healthy people can have an accident that renders them unable to communicate their wishes. Don’t wait until a crisis to have your paperwork in order.
3. Focus on What Really Matters
When you’re already stressed, it’s easy to let little things get to you. Try to remember that the most important things in life are the relationships with the people you love. Make a resolution to take time out to tell them all the things you want them to know in a life journal. Share photos, family history, and personal stories. Your family will cherish these memories for the rest of their lives.