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5 Tips for Prioritizing Your Own Needs When You Live with a Chronic Condition

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by Elinor Hills

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by Elinor Hills

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Taking time to focus on your own needs isn’t selfish — it’s responsible and necessary.

Receiving a chronic condition diagnosis is often overwhelming. You may be faced with big lifestyle changes to make and seemingly endless medical information to absorb.

A new diagnosis can fill you with uncertainty and may make you feel less confident in your ability to recognize and respond to what your body needs.

It can feel as though the relationship you have with your body has been disrupted. It can take time to relearn how to listen and respond to your body’s signals.

It’s important to remember that self-care is a skill that requires practice.

Sometimes this means practicing treating yourself with kindness and not feeling guilty about missing an outing with friends. Sometimes it means asking your boss if you can work from home during a flare-up.

Sometimes it means practicing asking others for help when you realize that you have too much on your plate.

It’s important to trust that you know your body and what it needs better than anyone else.

Members of Bezzy’s chronic condition communities shared advice about how they prioritize their own needs.

Set boundaries to reduce stress

“Work and school stress triggers a lot of pain for me. One thing I started doing to minimize stress is putting down firm boundaries about when I can work or do school work and when I can’t.

Prioritizing spending time at home, away from all my stress has really made a big difference!” — GirlwithArthritis, Bezzy PsA member

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Accept, and respect, your limits

“Often I feel guilty that I can’t get my responsibilities done and put more work on my family. It is so hard to accept that I just can’t do it and often I push myself past my limits. But, it’s something I’m trying to work on.

I’m trying to accept my limitations and force myself to not overdo it. It feels like I have to retrain my brain and will probably take a while to accomplish. One day at a time.

Some people will understand and respect that we have limits and some won’t. Be encouraged by those who understand and don’t let those who don’t understand push you. You know what’s best for yourself.” — Valinda Rees, Bezzy Migraine member

Ignore any judgment

“Live your own life and concentrate on your own self-care. Embrace those who are genuine and sincere about helping you… but ignore the others.” — Kalemakapii, Bezzy T2D member

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Practice asking for what you need

“Asking for accommodations is scary. At least for me it is. I’m very much a people-pleaser and I have a hard time giving myself a break.

I used to work rotating day and night shifts at my job. Night shifts threw my body way out of whack. I knew this… I would go into both arthritis flares and skin flares and just be so miserable because of them.

It took a lot of courage but I asked to be moved to only day shifts and my request was approved! I was honest about loving my job but needing to care for myself first and foremost.

I was met with understanding and I’m so grateful for that.” — Jenny Parker, Bezzy PsA community guide

Surround yourself with those who help you feel seen

“Having a big support system helps when dealing with the emotions that comes with living with PsA. Family friends, and occasionally strangers have really helped me to see beauty when I couldn’t find it myself.

The Bezzy PsA community helps when it feels like loved ones just don’t understand.” — Spottietoohottie, Bezzy PsA member

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The bottom line

Adjusting to a new “normal” after a chronic condition diagnosis can be frustrating especially when it means realizing you might not be able to do all of the things you once could.

Through listening to and trusting your instincts, you’ll start to settle into a new routine that works for you. It can also be helpful to find a support system that really understands what you are going through.

Whether you are looking for self-care tips, relationship advice, or even just a place to vent, Bezzy is here for you.

Article originally appeared on June 30, 2021 on Bezzy’s sister site, Healthline. Last fact checked on June 30, 2021.

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