Coping Strategies During Cardiac Rehabilitation

Once your doctor gives you the news that you're a heart patient facing a life-threatening disease, you know your life is going to change. There are many different feelings you may experience such as being frightened, worried, angry or depressed. These feelings are common.

What is the first thing I should do?

The doctors, nurses, therapists, chaplains and other health care team members are experienced with your feelings and designed treatment plans. Listen to them and accept their help. Specific treatment goals will be designed just for you. Realize you will need to be disciplined with the treatment plan and goals, and be prepared to deal with the emotional as well as the physical demands.

What are some of the common feelings or behavior changes?

  • Anger due to loss of independence
  • Jealousy that others seem healthier than yourself
  • Increased sensitivity to physical aches and pains
  • Change in sleeping patterns
  • Frequent feelings of sadness and bouts of crying
  • Little to no energy
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Less interest in activities you usually enjoy

If these feelings don't lessen with time, discuss them with your doctor.

What are the best ways to deal with these feelings?

  • Avoid isolation. It is easy to become very self-absorbed.
  • You probably have a lot of unanswered questions, so educate yourself by asking questions.
  • Continue to go to your cardiac rehabilitation classes and take a list of questions you may have.
  • Share your feelings with family and friends.
  • Keep active in social groups.
  • Join a support group.
  • Focus on the positive side of things.
  • Make a list of things you enjoy doing and do them (first check with your doctor).
  • Write down your feelings on paper.
  • Make positive lifestyle changes.
  • Know when to slow down so you don't get overtired and get plenty of rest.
  • Get up and get dressed and plan your day with activities you enjoy.