Carrie Steckl earned her Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology with a Minor in Gerontology from Indiana University – Bloomington in 2001. She has spent over ...Read More
Receiving a medical diagnosis we didn’t expect is never easy. In fact, it can be downright terrifying until we wrap our minds around what is happening. When a health crisis strikes, it’s easy to forget to take care of ourselves. However, self-care is paramount if we are going to cope effectively and make good health care choices.
Here are eight ways to take care of yourself during a health crisis:
- Educate yourself. Ignorance is not bliss when it comes to a health crisis. Ask your doctor questions and ask him or her to recommend reading material on the subject. If you decide to search the Internet yourself, be very careful about which sites you choose to rely upon. Major non-profit organizations, government agencies, and research articles from scientific journals are good places to start. Do not rely on Wikipedia to supplement your medical knowledge!
- Determine your options. There is absolutely nothing wrong with seeking a second opinion, especially if you are skeptical about the first opinion for any reason. A second opinion is your right as a health care consumer, and most doctors understand and respect this.
- Keep good records. Use a system that works for you. You might choose a filing system to organize your notes and test results, or you might decide to keep a journal to record information, notes, as well as your thoughts and feelings about what is happening.
- Don’t hold it in. You’re going to feel all kinds of emotions during a health crisis, and it’s important to express them. Holding them in won’t make them go away. Find someone you trust to talk to, seek counseling, or join a private online community for people who have also been diagnosed with the condition.
- Reach out. It’s crucial for you to reach out to others when a health crisis hits. For more information about how to do that, click here.
- Keep doing the things you enjoy for as long as you can do them. Depending on your health status, you may or may not be able to continue the activities you enjoy. Be sure to do them for as long as you can as a way of nurturing yourself. If the activity becomes more difficult, be creative and try modifying it so that you can still participate in some way.
- Surround yourself with happy things. Not that I think that things should be of primary importance, but there are some items that bring us joy (pictures of loved ones, flowers, books we love, etc.). If your health crisis demands a stay in a hospital, be sure to bring some of these items with you as a source of comfort.
- Believe in post-traumatic growth. Researchers have observed that when people cope well with a health crisis, it often changes them in positive ways. They might show more gratitude, patience, creativity, or a new perspective on life. Believe in the possibility of post-traumatic growth as you are coping with your health crisis; it can provide you with hope now as well as in the future.
Dwass, E. (August 13, 2014). Expert advice on coping with a health crisis. Chicago Tribune (Kindle version).