Dealing with a lupus diagnosis can be a challenge. Where do you turn for comfort? How do you manage symptoms? Remember: You’re not alone. The Centers for Disease Control and prevention (CDC) estimated that around 1.5 million Americans have lupus, and around nine out of 10 diagnoses of lupus are in women aged 15 to 44.
Let’s take a look at a few ways you can more easily manage symptoms and create a better life for yourself even in the light of your new lupus diagnosis.
You’ve been diagnosed with lupus — now what?
Creating specific goals for your relationship with your diagnosis starts with accepting it. The first step forward after a lupus diagnosis is dealing with what could be a surprise or shock. You should take steps toward understanding what causes your flare-ups, but continue to live your life and enjoy your usual activities as much as possible.
When making your goals for dealing with this lifelong diagnosis, it can be helpful to follow the SMART goal approach. Make your plans specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-sensitive. Do you want to manage your pain? Instead of that nebulous idea, think of it this way: How are you going to manage pain? (How are you going to attain that goal?) What does “success” mean for this goal? Be specific. This can help you focus your energy toward making actionable, positive changes in your life.
Manage symptoms with diet and indoor exercise
Everyone experiences different symptoms, but some common symptoms include fatigue, skin flare-ups, gastrointestinal problems, and other physical issues, like an unexplained fever. There are ways to deal with these various symptoms that you may be experiencing. Photosensitivity, for instance, is one of the most common symptoms, and that can be managed by avoiding sunlight. This can make getting daily exercise difficult, but an indoor workout routine can help.
Diet is another way you can improve your response to pain. Practicing mindful eating can help you manage your symptoms. This can include easy tasks like eating from smaller plates, avoiding depriving yourself of the sweets you want (just eat them in moderation), and making sure you eat breakfast every day so you stay fuller longer. The best kind of diet for people with lupus is a balanced one — nutritionally speaking — so make sure you are eating foods with good fats, calcium, and a lot of antioxidants, as these foods can help with flare-ups. Osteoporosis is a common side effect in women with lupus, so making sure to get as much calcium as possible is important (and staying active!).
Along with your body, you need to take care of your mind as well. The shock of dealing with a lupus diagnosis can cause anxiety, and making sure you’re taking stock of your mental wellness is also important. Meditation, for example, is one way of managing stress symptoms.
Don’t deal with chronic pain by yourself
Above everything else, you need to remember that you aren’t alone in this. In fact, there are even professionals who can help you manage your symptoms and keep you on the right track in terms of managing expectations, keeping up with doctors’ appointments, and helping you learn how to best handle your diagnosis.
You may also consider joining groups like the Alliance to Advance Comprehensive Integrative Pain Management, which is a group of folks dedicated to helping others manage pain and learn more about various conditions.
Your life, your rules
Managing lupus symptoms, and dealing with the strain of the diagnosis itself, doesn’t have to be a solitary, stressful activity. You have your whole life in front of you, and it’s within your power to make the most out of it!
You’re not alone in dealing with your lupus diagnosis. Get in touch with life coach and pain management expert Yvette Laboy to talk about retaking your life and getting your motivation back. Contact Yvette today!
About The Writer of this Article: Mary Shannon created SeniorsMeet, along with her husband, Bob, to have a website that allows seniors to “meet up” and talk about topics that are relevant to their daily lives. They hope to build SeniorsMeet into a supportive community of like-minded seniors.