Generally speaking, a chronic illness is a disease or condition that is recurrent over varying amounts of time. Sometimes chronic illness persists and lasts for years, while other forms of chronic illness are intermittent and may be sporadic. Either way, chronic illness can be debilitating to a person’s physical, social, and psychological well-being.
Chronic illnesses are varied and may include conditions like diabetes, arthritis, depression, and cancer, among many others. In some cases, they represent the most common, costly, and preventable health problems in the United States. For example, did you know that in 2005 approximately 133 million people in the United States had a chronic illness?
Because chronic illnesses are so varied, their causes and symptoms can be very different. However, there may be several steps you can take to diminish your chances of getting a chronic illness and improving your overall health. Let’s review a few simple steps:
Exercise – Make sure you spend enough time exercising. This doesn’t mean you have to run 5 miles a day; instead, try taking the stairs instead of the elevator or bike to work!
Eat better – We’ve all heard the expression “you are what you eat.” Try to incorporate a few healthy snacks to your diet. For example, grab an apple instead of chips for your afternoon snack.
Monitor substance use – It’s important to understand that smoking and drinking are both connected to chronic illness.
Get enough sleep – Sleeping allows your body and mind to recharge. Even if you can only go to bed 15 minutes earlier each night, it’s worth it!
If you are struggling with a chronic illness, please consider consulting your doctor or searching our database of licensed psychologists to contact support.
Consider reviewing these additional resources about chronic illness: