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Living with a long-term condition

How many of you know of someone with a long term condition? Life’s not easy with a long term condition… it takes away your controls and affects your confidence.

Such conditions can be common things like Asthma to Multiple Sclerosis, Fibromyalgia, Rheumatoid Arthritis etc.

Self-care is about not just looking after the long term condition, BUT is about how to look after yourself, your general health and well-being. Things such as taking the appropriate medication, to getting enough sleep, doing some form of activity, seeing your friends and seeking help when you need it.

Everyone with a long term condition needs a care plan, which is personalised to meet your needs, with your input– just ask you GP.

Things that help you to be healthier involve lifestyle changes:

  • Stop smoking,

  • Loose weight

  • Eat more healthily

  • Have an activity regime

Keeping fit and healthy can be a challenge when you have a long term condition, but these changes don’t have to be dramatic, small changes can make all the difference.

Don’t try and do all this on your own. Ask for the help of the healthcare professionals that are around you, not only can they make suggestions to you directly, but they will be able to tell you of local services and organisations that may also be able to help.

Don’t be shy to ask your health professionals, whether it be your GP, Pharmacist, Nurse, Social Services or any of the supplementary healthcare practitioners such as your physio, osteopath, chiropodist, acupuncturist etc…. small changes can go a long way to making you more independent.

One important aspect self-care is learning to deal with stress…….

What are the symptoms of stress?

Tiredness, mood swings, muscular tension, disturbed sleep, low self-esteem, anxiety, poor concentration, changes n eating habits, poor memory / forgetfulness.

How can I treat stress?

  • Increased activity has a positive effect on stress and is useful in preventing stress.

  • Make time for yourself. Practice relaxation techniques or meditation there are many types of relaxation classes available: yoga, meditation Pilates Tai Chi etc.

  • Take a positive approach to your health and avoid turning food, alcohol cigarettes or other drugs into the comforters of stress.

Stress at Work

In today’s climate there’s a lot of stressed people at work and especially if you are working and have a long term condition. It makes it harder, when there’s already too much of a work load, less freedom or flexibility and being unclear about where you fit in in the workplace. Also getting that work home life balance right is a challenge sometimes even without a long term condition.

Yes there are things that your organisation may well be able to do to help you but there are a number of things that you can do for yourself:

  • Organise your work – speak to your manager if it is too much or too little.

  • Talk to people both inside and outside of work who can help and support you

  • Change your work environment, eg list your priorities, develop a filing system

  • Take regular breaks during the day. Have a lunch break, go for a short walk if you are able or at least move into a separate room

  • Take time out for holidays and general ‘down time’.

  • Increase your activity level. The level of this will depend on the nature of your condition, but it could be as little as a short walk to cycling swimming etc.

  • Find out of the company you work for has any counselling services or occupational health services and make use of them

  • Learn some simple relaxation techniques that you can use at work, such as breathing exercises. These will need to be practiced in the beginning when you are less stressed but by mastering them they will be helpful to you in times of stress, so have a practice at home when it’s quiet.

Where to get advice

Occupation health service at work

Ask your GP

Look up relaxation classes on line or in the local newspaper, gym and health centre.

Further advice can be found on:

Patients Advice and liaison Services (PALS) – 0845 46 47

Don’t forget those of you visiting the Centre For Complementary Health, the practitioners here see many people with long term conditions and often may be able to help you directly but if not they can also point you in the right direction to people who can help you – JUST ASK!


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