Tips to prevent and manage chronic health conditions

Chronic health conditions are broadly defined, often they are classified as health conditions that last for 6 months or longer, potentially developing in severity over time.  

The good news is, in many cases making healthy lifestyle choices helps prevent, delay and manage the symptoms of diagnosed chronic health conditions. So, we’ve put together some handy tips that can help you to make healthier lifestyle choices to reduce the impact of your chronic health condition:

  • Early intervention: seek help from your doctor when you first experience symptoms as this can prevent more serious symptoms from developing and improve the outcome of treatment(s).
  • Physical activity: being active is one of the best things you can do for your health because it can help to prevent and manage the symptoms of chronic health conditions. Adults should to be active for 30 minutes or more each day. If you are just starting out, anything is better than nothing – start with something and add more. 
  • Eat well: healthy eating is providing your body with the fuel it needs. Our bodies respond to the food and nutrients we put in them – positively or negatively. A healthy diet helps to fight disease, promotes healing, boosts energy levels and supports overall health and wellbeing. Open Arms  Veterans & Families Counselling have a range of healthy recipes available online.
  • Don’t smoke (this includes vaping): smoking and vaping are bad for your health. They can increase you risk of developing chronic health conditions such as heart disease, stroke and some cancers. Quitting smoking can be hard, help is available.
  • Limit alcohol intake: health advice suggests men consume no more than one to two drinks and women consume no more than one alcoholic drink a day. Excess alcohol consumption can be harmful to your physical and mental health and increase your risk of developing a chronic health condition. Open Arms has information available online to help you drink responsibly.
  • Sleep: while the amount of sleep needed varies for each individual, most experts agree the minimum amount of sleep needed each night is 7 ½ hours. Sleep is a vital biological function responsible for many roles including things like helping your body to recover and repair from injury and illness, supporting brain development and cardiac function, and can even influence your mood. Having a night-time routine that includes avoiding alcohol, caffeine, smoking and screens at least one hour before going to bed helps to promote a good night’s sleep. Being active in the day and eating well helps too.
  • Daily self-care/ mindfulness: a commitment of just 15 minutes a day can help to reduce stress and anxiety, and improve concentration and memory. These activities include things like taking a shower or going for a walk in nature, meditating, doing yoga, breathing exercises, practising gratitude or writing in a journal.
  • Seeking help when you need it: the greatest wealth is health, so it is important to prioritise your health. The best way to do this is to make healthy lifestyle choices, and when in ill health to see your GP or a health professional early. Seeking help can also include social assistance to connect you to community: a 12-week program is available for eligible veterans through the Coordinated Veterans’ Care (CVC) Program.

Your GP can help you to understand if you have a chronic health condition and if you would benefit from regular, ongoing care coordination through the CVC Program.

More information about the CVC Program, including on eligibility, is available on the DVA website or by calling 1800 838 372