3 Tips to Help You Cope and Thrive with Lupus

Learn how eating well, managing stress and even using tools to help with positive thinking can help you meet the challenges of life with lupus

[3 MIN READ]

There’s no question: Living with lupus can be a day-to-day challenge. After all, you’re not only dealing with its effects on your health, you may be concerned about how this chronic disease affects your family life and work. Check out these three tips for how to cope with lupus and thrive in spite of it.

Lupus tip #1: Lean in to better diet and nutrition

Just as certain foods don’t cause lupus, at this time, there aren’t any foods that can cure it. But you don’t want to disregard the importance of what you eat as part of your treatment plan. Healthy meals are key to managing the disease. Try to stick with a well-balanced diet of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains, plus a moderate amount of meats, poultry and oily fish.

If you have lupus, eating certain foods and avoiding others may help you:

  • Cut down on the side effects of lupus medicines
  • Reach or stay at a healthy weight
  • Lower the risk of skin problems

Let’s dig a little deeper into the changes you may want to make in your diet based on your lupus symptoms or treatments. (As always, talk with your doctor about your diet and nutrition as they relate to the disease.)

  • If your lupus causes you to have high levels of fat in your blood, talk to your doctor about potentially following a low-fat eating plan.
  • If you gain weight because of the side effects of medicines such as steroids, you may want to try a low-calorie plan.
  • Because people with lupus need to stay out of the sun, you may need more vitamin D. Check with your doctor to see if you should take a supplement.
  • If certain foods trigger your lupus flares, let your doctor know to document them.

Lupus tip #2: Manage your stress

Sometimes the desire to control every aspect of your life with lupus can become stressful in itself. Choose to be patient with yourself. While you may not always be able to control lupus flares, you can do small things to help control your stress.

  • Get some exercise. According to the Lupus Foundation of America, physical activity releases opiates in the brain that help improve your mood and general sense of well-being. Knowing that, think about taking up yoga. Although it’s commonly a low-impact activity, yoga works with the whole body — it can even boost heart health along with easing stress. Just remember, don’t overdo it when it comes to physical activity.
  • Be kind to yourself. Lupus can take a lot out of you. It may help for you to treat yourself to the things you enjoy. What does being kind to yourself look like? It could be a girls’ weekend at a bed and breakfast, a healthy cooking class, or even just a Saturday afternoon alone with a great read.
  • Look for support. When stress hits, sometimes the best thing you can do is talk it out. Seek the ear of a trusted family member or friend, or a spiritual or mental health counselor. Think about joining a support group, too — whether face-to-face or online.

Lupus tip #3: Make room for gratitude

Grateful? For lupus? Stick with us — we’ll explain.

This isn’t about burying your head in the sand and pretending that everything is fine despite the disease. Lupus hurts in so many ways, and even the people and things we love most can’t cure it. But focusing on what gives us joy or makes us thankful can help lupus become easier to bear and may even lower depression.

In a recent study about gratitude and chronic illness, the researchers defined gratitude as a person noticing the positive things in life, including expressing gratitude to others. The study found that being grateful helped lower depression in those with chronic illnesses.

In a recent study about gratitude and chronic illness, the researchers defined gratitude as a person noticing the positive things in life, including expressing gratitude to others. The study found that being grateful helped lower depression in those with chronic illnesses.

That doesn’t mean that gratitude should replace anger or grief over having lupus. Those are very real, very honest feelings — and you’re certainly entitled to them. But training your mind to notice simple pleasures can create new pathways in your brain and new patterns of positive thinking.

Life with lupus: living above the limits

Over the course of this series on lupus, we’ve talked about its symptoms and diagnosis, the types and risks of lupus, who’s more likely to get it and what triggers flares. But what’s most important is that you keep educating yourself about the disease. The more you understand lupus, the better equipped you are to rise above the limitations. [PULL QUOTE] And that can lead you to feel more empowered and optimistic.

Now that you know more about lupus, don’t hesitate to reach out to your doctor if you feel you’re at risk for the disease. If you’re looking for a primary care doctor, you can search for one that’s right for you in our provider directory. Or you can find one using a regional directory below:

Alaska

California

Montana

Oregon

Washington

Resources

Lupus Awareness Month: There’s a Lot to Learn About Lupus

Notes on Lupus: Types, Risks, and Triggers

10 Tips for Becoming a Healthy Meal Prep Expert

Yoga for Heart Health

Lupus Foundation of America

Controlling Your Life with Lupus

LupusConnect

 

About the Author

The Providence Women's Health team is committed to providing useful and actionable insights, tips and advice to ensure women of all types can live their healthiest lives.

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