Tips for Dealing With a Serious Diagnosis

Hearing your doctor or other care providers tell you that you have cancer or that they need to discuss your diagnosis with you can send chills down your spine. Most people face at least one serious healthcare condition during their lifetime that stops them in their tracks at least momentarily. It’s not always a physical illness that needs your attention; it might be a severe case of anxiety, depression, or another mental health issue that needs ongoing treatment. Learning how to live with the diagnosis is critical to overall health and wellness.

However, navigating the world of chronic health problems can be challenging. Arming yourself with some of the best tips for dealing with a serious diagnosis can ease anxiety and keep you feeling your best. To help you deal with any serious illnesses, we’ve rounded up a few essential tips that will help you live a full and healthy life. 

Find Your Tribe

Getting through any difficulties in life is easier when you surround yourself with people who understand what you’re going through. Join a support group for cancer, diabetes, or any other long-term or serious condition that you may have. You can learn a lot about diets, self-care, and lifestyle changes that helped others living with the same condition. Support groups usually offer judgment-free zones so that you can share openly, which may not always be possible when discussing your illness with friends with family. 

Here are a few ways you can find support groups close to home:

  • Search on healthfinder.gov to find support groups for various conditions.
  • Contact Mental Health America to find groups that specialize in topics such as depression, grief, and anxiety.
  • Call your local hospital or healthcare facility to inquire if they offer any support groups or if they are aware of any in your city for your condition.

Get Away

Whether you were just diagnosed or you’ve been dealing with a chronic or serious health condition for a while, it might be time to get away. If you’re still working, ask your boss about taking time off. Plan a vacation to a top destination such as France, Portugal, or Chile. If you’re not up for international travel, look for destinations in the U.S. or even in your own state to get away from your normal daily routines. Be sure to check in with your doctor before making plans to ensure traveling is safe.

Ask for Help

It might not be typical of you to ask for help around the house. However, when you’re dealing with serious health problems, getting extra help may be necessary. Ask family or friends to help out with chores, meals, or errands that you usually do alone. You may also want to consider hiring help for tasks like mowing the lawn, cleaning the house, or even grocery shopping if such tasks seem overwhelming or cause extreme fatigue when you do them yourself. 

Be Mindful of Your Needs

It’s easy to get worried about what might happen next when you’re living with any serious conditions. Practicing mindfulness is a powerful way to combat these feelings and fears. Learning to live in the moment through mindful activities can provide self-acceptance, healing, and inspiration. If you’re looking for ways to practice mindfulness, consider researching meditation. 

The ancient practice of meditation helps you connect with the present by synchronizing your mind and body. You can learn to practice on your own by sitting quietly and focusing on your breathing, or you download an app such as Calm or Headspace to participate in guided meditations. Some apps even have meditations designed specifically for people dealing with chronic pain, anxiety, and other symptoms. 

Learn About Your Condition

Knowledge is power. However, there should be some balance, too. You don’t want to spend all of your waking hours reading about the side effects of medications or possible complications. Similarly, keep apprised of any changes in relevant healthcare legislation that may affect your costs or treatment options, but don’t obsess over every proposed change.

Find reputable resources such as the American Cancer Society, American Heart Association, or the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, just to name a few. Along with the essential information you need about diagnosis, treatment, and cutting edge research being done about the condition, be sure to look for local resources and chapters of the organization. 

Make Lifestyle Changes

Living with a chronic condition can mean making lifestyle changes. You may need to consider changes to your diet, sleep patterns, and even your work schedule. Managing stress is another skill you’ll probably need to perfect. Consider adopting a life of minimalism to improve your health, too. 

Decorate your bedroom or whatever room you spend the most time in with books, knick-knacks, and pictures that bring you joy and peace. Upgrade furniture so that you can rest peacefully at night. If keeping up with everyone else’s lives causes you extra stress, you should also consider freezing your social media accounts — or at least limiting how much time you spend on it. 

Feeling Better Each Day

Living with serious and chronic illnesses isn’t easy. You will have good and bad days. The goal is to find a balance that keeps health and wellness at the center of your world. Begin using these six tips today to deal with your serious diagnosis.

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Brooke Faulkner is a mother of two and wilderness enthusiast. When she's not writing, she can usually be found zipping around the mountains on her ATV.

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