According to Richard M. Cohen, a journalist and writer who has battled muscular sclerosis and cancer, if you have been diagnosed with a chronic health problem, your first instinct may be to put all of your energy into fighting it. It can work for some people but there are alternatives worth considering for everyone.

Live the life you had planned for as long as you can. You don’t have to deny that you have a disease, but you don’t have to become a victim to it either. If you like to travel, continue to do so even if it’s harder. If you like gardening, keep at it. Always remember that you are still the same person.

Don’t be shy about asking for help. Remember that for every one person that won’t help you there are two that will. Don’t let negative thinking convince you that no one wants to help if you get one rejection.

Avoid shutting out others. Sadly many people who are diagnosed with an illness feel that they are a burden to their families and start to withdraw from their loved ones. Isolating from one another is the easy way out. You become self absorbed, which is unfair to the people that surround you.

Beware of self-pity. When you start feeling sorry for yourself, look around. It doesn’t take long to see someone who is worse off than you are. Say to yourself, things could be worse. Sometimes you must say it to yourself over and over again. Self-pity is poison.

Know that you can be happy. Coping with an illness is an art that must be relearned every single day. There is no magic. Coping evolves.