Adjusting to life with a chronic condition

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Being diagnosed with a chronic condition has a large impact on your life. Read about practical ways to cope as you adjust to life with a chronic condition.

Living with a chronic condition

A diagnosis of a chronic (long-term) condition can have a major impact on your life. Living with a chronic condition often involves dealing with symptoms, taking medications, going to more medical appointments than usual and having more frequent tests and procedures to monitor any changes.

As a result, you might miss school, activities with friends or family, hobbies and sports. This is all happening when people are expecting you to become more independent, which in itself can feel stressful or overwhelming at times.

Comfort your pain audio

How to use: This audio meditation helps you explore and bring comfort to an unwanted thought or an area of physical or emotional discomfort. Use this meditation when you are feeling overwhelmed or experiencing physical discomfort. Follow along, focusing with kindness and curiosity on an uncomfortable area of your body.

Getting used to a new normal

Different people respond in different ways when they are diagnosed with a chronic condition. There is no one ‘right’ way to feel or react. Some children and teens feel angry, sad, worried or even relieved to have an answer. Others might feel self-conscious because they’re different from their friends or have a hard time relating to their friends. This can all be a part of the process of adjusting to “a new normal” for you and your family.

Click through the interactive below to learn about some of the common signs people have when they are having difficulty coping with or adjusting to life with a chronic condition.


It is important to allow yourself time to get to know what life will be like with a chronic condition. At the time of diagnosis, the condition might feel like it is taking over your life, but it will not be like this forever. The more you understand about your condition, the better you will be able to find ways to cope with and manage your symptoms. This will also make it easier for you to get on track with your “new normal”.

Practical ways to cope with a chronic condition

Acknowledge your feelings

Allow yourself to experience whatever feelings might come up – disappointment, frustration, worry, anger. Don’t ignore your feelings or pretend they don’t exist. You can’t address or manage feelings that you ignore.


Remember that moments pass

Dilute the yuckaudio

How to use: This audio meditation helps you identify pleasant or neutral experiences in the middle of discomfort. When you are overwhelmed, feeling pain or discomfort or going through any unwanted experience, use this guided meditation to help you recognize pleasant experiences, no matter how small. Follow along with the meditation to find areas that bring you comfort.

Remind yourself that you can get used to your condition and won’t feel sad, worried (or any other unwanted feeling) forever. The opposite is also true: just as tough moments pass, happiness doesn’t last forever either. Everybody goes through a wide range of feelings and experiences as part of a full and rich life.

Visualize your painaudio

How to use: This audio meditation helps you visualize your pain. When you are struggling with pain, use this meditation to help discover a new way to experience and respond to it. Follow along with the meditation so you can move from resisting and feeling frustrated about your pain to being open and curious and exploring it in detail without judgment.

Talk to others

Talk to your family, friends and healthcare team about how you feel. Talking about your feelings can help you feel better, learn to cope and get support if you need it.

Take time to understand your condition

Soften, soothe, allowaudio

How to use: This audio meditation helps you soften towards discomfort. Instead of resisting uncomfortable experiences or distracting yourself when they arise, use this meditation to help you develop an attitude of tenderness towards your suffering. As you follow the meditation, take time to allow your discomfort to come and go. If you become too uncomfortable, bring yourself back to your breath.

Give yourself time to get to know your symptoms and figure out when you need to contact your healthcare team.

When you are diagnosed with a chronic condition, you are hearing and reading a lot of new information. This can take some time to get used to, so don’t be afraid to ask questions, even if you asked them before but forgot the answers. Your healthcare team is there to help.

Ice cubeaudio

How to use: This audio meditation helps you find a new way to experience discomfort. Use this meditation to explore the thoughts, feelings or sensations that come with being upset or feeling physical pain. Holding an ice cube in the palm of your hand, follow along with the meditation to explore any feelings of discomfort. Have a towel handy to clean up the melted ice once the meditation is finished.

Keep up with your interests

Stay involved in your hobbies and continue to do the things you love. If you played sports, for instance, keep involved in whatever way you can. It is important to stay connected to the people and things that are important to you.

Decide what to tell others

Take the time to figure out how much or how little you’d like to tell other people about your chronic condition. You can share as much as or little as you would like.

It can be helpful to come up with a health summary (a one or two sentence description of your chronic condition). Once you memorize the summary, you will feel ready when people ask questions.

Of course, if you don’t want to talk about your condition on a given day, it is also okay to say so.

Last updated: March 22nd 2019