This Review discusses physiological, emotional, behavioural, and cognitive aspects of psychological adjustment to chronic illness. Reviewing the reports of the past decade, we identify four innovative and promising themes that are relevant for understanding and explaining psychological adjustment. In particular, the emphasis on the reasons why people fail to achieve a healthy adjustment has shifted to the identification of factors that help patients make that adjustment. To promote psychological adjustment, patients should remain as active as is reasonably possible, acknowledge and express their emotions in a way that allows them to take control of their lives, engage in self-management, and try to focus on potential positive outcomes of their illness. Patients who can use these strategies have the best chance of successfully adjusting to the challenges posed by a chronic illness.