One of the greatest misconceptions I had upon being diagnosed with lupus almost 20 years ago was that there was no magic pill that could cure the disease. I remember looking at the rheumatologist who had just diagnosed me and asking what medication is available to make this “go away.” While I was met with medication options, these options were only going to help me manage the disease. Even now, two decades later, no cure exists for lupus.
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The reality is, medication will not take away every symptom lupus brings forth, and most patients struggle on a daily basis with symptoms like fatigue, fever, and pain. All of this makes even the simplest of tasks feel like climbing a mountain. I have tried countless alternative and complementary therapies and what I did find was that certain lifestyle changes could help me not only better manage my symptoms, but also improve my mental, emotional, and overall health.
As someone who knows the struggles of a lupus diagnosis and how hard it can be to manage on a daily basis, I’ve compiled my personal list of effective lifestyle tips for managing lupus. Check it out…
Start a Daily Journal
Over time, after being diagnosed with a chronic illness, you will likely recognize certain triggers that bring out a flurry of symptoms after exposure. Every patient is different with their own unique triggers, however some are almost universal when it comes to lupus. Stress, sunlight, and lack of sleep are among the most common.
I didn’t really understand my triggers until I became active in the art of journaling at the urging of my husband. I purchased a notebook and every day for quite some time, I would write out the following for each day: how much I slept, if I napped (if so, how long), what foods I ate, medicine I took, any supplements I used, what my symptoms were for the day, if a fever or pain was present, if my menstrual cycle was occurring, if I went in the sun or heat, and what stressors were in my life. Though it wasn’t natural at first, I eventually became aware of both good and bad stressors. For instance, my wedding was considered “eustress” or good stress – but stressful nonetheless, putting me in a terrible flare up.
Having this information over many years proved to be invaluable. I saw very specific trends and patterns that correlated with an increase in pain, fevers, rashes, and heart complications, plus overall flare ups. For me, the heat, sun, a bad night of sleep, stress, certain foods, and even crying revved my body up in a way that brought out a multitude of symptoms.
For this reason, I recommend anyone who is newly diagnosed or really trying to implement better lifestyle choices in their overall health plan to get a notebook and stay committed to journaling. Your body will tell you everything you want to know – it is just better to write it all down because it is impossible to remember everything!