5 Self-Care Tips For Managing Chronic Illness

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I’m Tiffany Kairos and I’ve lived with epilepsy for 14 years. In this span of time, I’ve endured countless amounts of seizures while simultaneously aiming to better understand my condition and raise awareness. 

I’m confident I can provide others with information to navigate the challenges of this complex condition and live a fulfilling life.

What Is Chronic Illness?

A chronic illness is a long-term health condition that requires ongoing medical attention, could limit daily activities, and may not have a cure.

Treatment options depend on the type, cause, symptoms, and severity of the chronic illness.

Epilepsy is a neurological condition characterized by two or more unprovoked seizures. Epilepsy does not have a cure. However, there exists a wide variety of therapies that are effective in treating this condition including:

  • Medication(s)
  • Surgery 
  • Pacemakers
  • Diets

You can talk with your doctor about these therapies and see if one may be right for you.

Chronic Illness Self-Care Tips

1. Read a book

Chronic illness not only leaves a person with physical symptoms, but the toll it takes in other aspects of life is heavy as well. Chronic illness can also be stressful and draining.

Reading a book is very therapeutic in that it can improve memory, reduce stress, and even support brain health for a lifetime. Dedicate at least 15 minutes a day with your nose in a book!

2. Listen to music

Music therapy is an evidence-based treatment that helps with a variety of chronic illness conditions and helps manage depression, improve memory troubles, improve coping, and reduce stress/anxiety.

Genres such as slow-paced classical, light jazz, and nature sounds are terrific selections.

3. Take a break from social media

Social media has become a part of our everyday lives. Through computers or phones, a world without different social media channels seems unimaginable. However, overuse of social media can sometimes be a distraction when managing chronic illness should be a primary focus. 

Social media is a powerful tool to communicate with the outside world but overuse can cause stress/anxiety, depression, and other health challenges.

There’s no right or wrong period of time you should spend off of social media. The choice is entirely yours. You could choose to spend 24 hours off of social media, or you might spend 30 days off social media. Do what you feel is necessary for you and your overall health.

4. Take a guilt-free power nap

Power naps are short daytime naps lasting anywhere from 10-30 minutes. They’re called “power naps” because they’re meant to give you an energy boost if you’re feeling tired and sluggish.

Managing unpredictable chronic illness symptoms that affect your everyday life can be difficult, frustrating, and taxing. Taking a power nap can regenerate your body and brain.

How To Power Nap:

  1. Set an alarm
  2. Make it early (Ideally afternoon)
  3. Set the stage (Grab a comfy blanket, and pick a cool dark quiet place)

5. Move your body

While every chronic illness is different, doctors often advise patients to stay physically active, since movement can help control symptoms and ease the stress that stems from being chronically ill.

Try taking a short walk, lifting weights or household items such as soup cans, using stretching bands, and doing other light activities. Talk with your doctor before you start.

The bottom line: Self-care is an important and essential part of staying well. It isn’t selfish. It’s helpful and responsible.

woman sits in bed sipping on tea and reading a book for self-care
Courtesy of Toa Heftiba (via Unsplash)

This article was submitted to Love What Matters by Tiffany Kairos of Ohio. You can follow her on Instagram and her blog. Join the Love What Matters family and subscribe to our newsletter.

Read more from Tiffany here:

‘Life was instantly flipped upside down.’: Woman battling epilepsy navigates life after diagnosis, creates support community

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‘I left in tears, feeling more defeated than ever.’: Chronic illness warrior fighting for answers opens up about ‘medical gaslighting’

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