Manage chronic conditions by making an action plan

Action plans can help you take care of yourself.

Planning ahead doesn't have to take long. A few extra minutes in your day can be spent making an action plan.

Planning ahead doesn't have to take long. A few extra minutes in your day can be spent making an action plan.

One of the best ways to manage chronic conditions such as diabetes, arthritis or Parkinson’s disease is to make a weekly action plan. This will guide you to achieve your health goals. Michigan State University Extension suggests you make sure your action plan has these key ideas:

Make your action plan something you want to do.

  • This is your plan, not someone else’s plan for you.
  • Your plan is something you think you should do.

Pick something you can do easily

  • Ask yourself if your plan is realistic and achievable for you right now.
  • If you feel you will fail at this action then change it so you can succeed.

Be action specific

  • What is it that you are going to do?
  • How much are you going to do?
  • When are you going to do it?

Plan ahead for possible barriers

  • Ask yourself what might get in the way of achieving this goal.
  • Figure out ahead of time how you will handle barriers.
  • Know who you can call if you need help.

Celebrate and evaluate

  • Congratulate yourself on what you’ve achieved.
  • If things went well the next week you may be able to stretch your goal.
  • If things got in your way, find solutions to help get past the barrier.

Keep track of your progress. If things get in your way, think of solutions that can help you achieve your goal.

Below is an example of an action plan.

Weekly action plan to get more exercise

What am I going to do? I will start taking a water aerobics class.
How often will I do it? I will do one hour a week.
When will I do it? I will go to the 9 a.m. class every Friday.
What might get into my way?

The weather, which may make it challenging to get out of the house in the morning.

What might make doing this easier for me? I will ask a friend to join me; one that has mentioned water aerobics before.

Action plans outline steps you can take to attain a larger health goal. Research shows that such plans are instrumental in bringing about behavior changes in patients. American College of Physicians Foundation gives ideas for some opportunities to use an action plan:

  • Making diet changes
  • Quit smoking
  • Increase physical activity
  • Reducing stress
  • Improving sleep habits

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