Receiving a chronic condition diagnosis, such as heart disease, depression, arthritis or cancer, can raise a host of emotions and questions, including how will I manage this?
While you may have been feeling the physical symptoms for some time, the emotional impact of a chronic condition diagnosis can incite fear, anxiety, and disbelief.
“Understanding you have a condition that you will have to manage for the rest of your life can be overpowering at times,” says Kathy Prybylski, RN, one of the co-facilitators for CentraState’s Take Control of Your Health program, a chronic disease self-management program.
For more than 13 years, this evidence-based program has been a lifeline for those in the community diagnosed with a chronic health condition and their caregivers. The program aims to build participants’ confidence in self-managing their health and keep them active and engaged in their lives.
Developed in the early 1990s at Stanford University and available internationally, this interactive workshop series is also endorsed by the New Jersey State Department of Human Services. The self-management program has been shown to improve communication, physical and psychosocial outcomes, and increase confidence in managing chronic disease.
“One of the recurring trouble spots for patients involves communication,” says Prybylski. When people receive such a diagnosis, they are often overwhelmed with information. Communicating their needs and desires to their physician, care team, family, and friends can be an added burden. But, there are significant benefits to keeping the lines of communication open.
Healthy communication role-playing simulates productive conversations to help participants express the day-to-day challenges of living with a chronic condition. Learning how to convey your feelings helps avoid misunderstandings that may lead to frustration.
In addition to effective communication tips, the workshop provides the necessary tools to help participants navigate exercise, eat healthier and self-manage their symptoms, including pain, fatigue, poor sleep, shortness of breath, stress and depression.
“We try to provide peer support so that our participants do not feel isolated and helpless, and are better equipped to live their best possible life,” says Bella Grevesen, RN, program co-facilitator.
During six weekly sessions, participants set goals and develop a personal action plan to meet those goals. “We cheer each other on,” says Prybylski.
“We’ve seen some amazing transformations working with all of our program participants over the years, and we look forward to seeing many more,” she adds.
The next chronic disease self-management workshop, Take Control of Your Health, starts on April 28. The workshop will be offered entirely virtual to make participation easier for those with chronic conditions. A companion book, Living a Healthy Life with Chronic Conditions, 5th edition, is provided with registration.