Living with PAD: The Importance of Self-Care

Living well with PAD goes beyond taking your medication, eating well, and staying active. These things are a great start, but it’s not uncommon to feel a lot of strong emotions as you adjust to this new normal. The most difficult time is often right after your diagnosis, or after having a stent procedure or bypass surgery. But not feeling like yourself doesn’t have to last. The following self-care techniques may help you manage feelings of stress and anxiety, even anger.

1. Ask for help

Don’t be afraid to reach out to a friend or family member for help if you need it. Living with a condition like PAD can be difficult, and knowing you have someone to lean on can be reassuring. If you have someone in mind, consider sharing this caregiver guide with them. Connecting with others who are going through similar experiences can also help you feel less alone. Start by exploring local support groups or online communities for people who also have PAD.

2. Get enough sleep

Everyone is different, but most healthy adults need about 6–8 hours of sleep each night. Getting enough quality sleep has a positive impact on your mood, eating habits, energy levels, and more. Try to stay more active, limit caffeine and screen time before bed, and establish a consistent bedtime to give yourself the best chance of a good night’s sleep.

3. Consider meditation or yoga

Mindfulness practices like meditation or yoga can help reduce feelings of stress or anxiety. Both practices focus on the breath and acknowledging thoughts as they come and go. Yoga is also a great, low-impact way to stay active. Not ready to join a local yoga class or download a meditation app? Simply stopping what you’re doing once or twice a day to breathe deeply can help calm and clear your mind.

4. Find healthy outlets for stress

When your stress levels are elevated, try taking a walk or writing your feelings down in a journal. Participating in a hobby that you love or volunteering can also help you manage stress.

5. Practice gratitude

Studies point to a connection between gratitude and overall well-being, and it’s simpler than you might think to increase a feeling of gratitude in your daily life. For example, you might write a letter or email telling someone you love why you appreciate them—or simply think of three things you were thankful for during the day as you go to sleep each night. Small things, big things—the size doesn’t matter. It’s all about what you personally find valuable or meaningful.