(HealthDay News) -- If you have a chronic illness -- such as diabetes, arthritis or heart disease -- you can take an active role in managing your health.

The American Academy of Family Physicians offers these self-management guidelines:

  • Examine your unhealthy behaviors, and choose which ones you'd like to change.
  • Create specific goals and an action plan for how you'll reach those goals.
  • Create backup plans -- for example, what you'll do for exercise when the weather is bad.
  • Feel confident in your ability to reach your goals; if they seem too tough, reconsider your goals.
  • Check in frequently with your doctor to discuss your progress and any problems.