16 Nov How to Navigate Work While Living With a Chronic Medical Condition
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, six in 10 Americans live with at least one chronic illness, such as heart disease, stroke, cancer and diabetes. These and other serious diseases are the leading causes of death and disability in the nation, and are also a major driver of health care costs.
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused many workers to reevaluate their professional lives, and even consider leaving or changing their jobs. This includes many essential workers who are required to work in person despite being in a high-risk category for infection due to underlying health conditions.
Recent data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that roughly four million people quit their jobs in April 2021 alone. However, despite their fears about being exposed to the virus, many individuals with chronic diseases have returned to work to maintain access to life-sustaining medication and medical care.
Overall, feeling supported in the workplace may not only increase your ability to manage a chronic health condition, but reduce your emotional stress. Here are a few tips on how to balance working and managing your health:
• Consider sharing some information about your struggles with your supervisor or colleagues. While you may choose to keep your health information private, having others understand your needs can help open the door to additional resources and lower your stress.
• Research and understand the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which entitles eligible employees of covered employers to take unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons with continuation of group health insurance coverage (https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/fmla).
• Establish a relationship of open communication with your doctor about your medical challenges and job demands. Your health care provider can play an essential role in offering advice and treatments that help you function better and increase productivity on a daily basis.
• Take the time to seek and build a support system. Consider joining a local support group, as well as educating your loved ones about your chronic illness, treatment protocols and work demands. This may empower more people to help and support you.
• Understand and respect your limits. Achieving a healthy work-life balance requires listening to your body, practicing self-care and getting the proper amount of rest. When you perform activities to restore your mind and body, you will have more strength and energy to do the job!