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PCHC Positive Coping with Health Conditions
IntroductionJean

Health problems can have a troubling impact on your life through pain, other physical symptoms and limitations on your day-to-day activities. You may need to undergo tests or treatments, take medications according to a schedule, change your diet, or make other adjustments. Managing a health condition can be very difficult. This workbook will help you cope with your health condition so that you can enjoy your life more.

There are many types of health problems, each with unique challenges – but this workbook can help you cope with any physical health problem or illness you might face. If you would like to know the most common health conditions, they are listed at the end of this workbook (see page 108).

We are going to show you how to cope better with health stress and how to overcome stress symptoms. These stress symptoms are reactions to the stress of having a health condition. They can develop when you feel overwhelmed by physical symptoms, pain, limitations and treatments. Stress symptoms make dealing with a health condition even more difficult.

Stress symptoms include:

  • Low or depressed mood
  • Worry and anxiety
  • Frustration, irritability and anger
  • Social isolation

Stress symptoms cause an extra burden of suffering, on top of the suffering caused by your health condition. They can worsen your health symptoms. They can make it difficult to attend medical appointments, keep up with self-care, or stay active.

Stress Symptoms

To help you deal with stress and with stress symptoms, we will teach you Positive Coping Skills. These Positive Coping Skills are very helpful in dealing with stress, including the stress that results from having a health condition.

It’s hard enough carrying the burden of a health condition
without also carrying the burden of stress symptoms.

The Positive Coping Skills are effective in addressing stress symptoms. But, the skills are helpful even if you are not experiencing any stress symptoms. The Positive Coping Skills help you maintain a positive mood and achieve a relaxed and calm attitude. They will enhance your ability to cope with your health condition, help prevent stress problems and promote good health. For many people, coping with a health problem brings opportunities to make positive changes in the way they approach life. This workbook will help you develop skills to create lasting improvements in the quality of your life.

Who Can Be Helped By This Book?

1. Individuals with Health Conditions

This workbook will help you deal with the stress symptoms that accompany health conditions. If you learn and practice the Positive Coping Skills, you’ll become more effective at dealing with stress. That will make it easier to handle your health condition and will help make your life more rewarding.

2. Friends & Family of Individuals with Health Conditions

This workbook is also designed to help friends and family members support people with health conditions as they learn and practice the Positive Coping Skills. Friends and family members are encouraged to look through the book. The better they understand the Positive Coping Skills, the better they’ll be able to help their friend or loved one learn the skills.

3. Healthcare Providers & Peer Supports

This workbook is a resource for healthcare providers involved in the treatment of people with health conditions. Although healthcare providers have knowledge about medical treatment and physical self-care, they may not be familiar with the kinds of information and skills presented in this workbook. Peer counselors who support the self-care of those with health conditions will also find this a useful resource. Peer counselors may find it helpful to include the workbook material in self-management groups.

4. Everyone Else

Managing our health is a priority for everyone – each of us will deal with serious health issues at some time. Although this book is focused on individuals handling health stress right now, the Positive Coping Skills can also be used to prevent health stress later on. So the skills taught in this book are relevant for everyone!

Self-Care Is Important

You’ve probably been given information about how to care for yourself, along with information about medications or other treatments.

Helen

Examples:

  • People with diabetes learn how to test blood sugar and how to change their diet or medications.
  • People with emphysema learn special breathing techniques or how to pace their physical activities.

Each health condition has its own kind of self-care activities that improve health, lessen suffering or reduce limitations. Sometimes you can join a self-management group to learn more about your condition and share support with others facing similar challenges. Self-management groups are valuable – if you have access to a group, consider joining it.

This workbook is about self-care for problems caused by the stress of your health condition. It fits well with self-care for physical symptoms. As you gain more control over stress, you will find it easier to do self-care for your health condition. If you are struggling with low mood and discouragement, it’s going to be harder, for example, to carry out regular blood sugar testing. Or, if you’re tossing and turning through sleepless nights because of worry, it will be more difficult to remember your medication schedule.

About This Workbook

The aim of this workbook is to teach Positive Coping Skills and show how you can get more control over stress. Reducing stress helps people with health conditions feel better and be better. When you feel better, you’re more likely to practice self-care for your health condition.

The Positive Coping Skills are presented in a step-by-step manner, because we know how tough it is to learn new skills when you’re already dealing with health challenges.

Before you begin the workbook, there’s an important issue we’d like to address. Some people who are asked to read this book feel that their physical symptoms are being questioned (“Do they think it’s all in my head?”). The answer is a clear and definite “no.” Positive Coping Skills are useful for almost all people who develop a health condition. It’s common to experience stress as a result of dealing with health issues – in fact, it would be unusual if you were not experiencing stress! Wanting to improve your coping just means you’re like most people dealing with a health condition.