Disclaimer: I am by no means a doctor and have not done any studies. This is just from my experience over the past 9 years and articles I have read.
Reduce your stress
This might be the most important advice I could give to anyone living with any kind of health condition. If I have a very busy and stressful day at work, I notice it within hours. Take some time to yourself and make sure you set aside time to relax. I often remind myself that whatever I’m stressing about is not a big deal in the whole scheme of things. Pete is also good at bringing me back to reality when I am stressing over silly things. Another thing to remember is that good stress is still stress. There was a period of time where I graduated from college, moved home, got a job all within a few months. It was all very exciting and all good stress, but your body sees it as stress regardless if it’s good or bad.
Get your sleep
This is also very important. For me, sleep is the best medicine. If I don’t get enough sleep, I struggle the next day. I often joke that if I go to bed late, I get a hangover without ever drinking a sip of alcohol. Now that takes talent!
I know this one can be very difficult at times for lupus patients. I go through bouts when I can barely get out of bed. I’m not suggesting you exercise during those times, but when you can, do it. Last year I had a very good year and I found that exercising really helped. It gave me energy and built up my muscle strength that I had lost from my flare up and from taking more prednisone than I care to in a lifetime. I believe that if you strengthening your muscles surrounding your joints it helps support them better. For me, joint pain is what I feel the most.
Eat a healthy diet
Obviously this one has to be in there. It’s a given. Do what you can. There are also anti-inflammatory diets that can be tried. I have also been told alfalfa sprouts are not good for Lupus patients along with anything that boosts your immune system (like garlic). Lupus patients already have an over active immune system so you don’t want anything to make it even more active.
Be Careful in the Sun
This one is very difficult for me. I fish, I hunt and just like being outside. Although my doctor would love it if I just stay out of the sun completely, I just can’t. I have some summers that are worse than others. My compromise is using a lot of sunscreen with a higher amount of SPF. If that isn’t sufficient enough, I will pull out my sun clothing. Plus, I need my vitamin D, right?
Speaking of vitamin D, make sure your levels get checked. Living in MN, I’m already at a risk of having low levels, but getting your D levels where they need to be does really help your energy levels. I believe I even read an article somewhere that decreased vitamin D levels was connected to an increase in Lupus symptoms. So just get it checked! They already take a ton of your blood, why not a little more?
Watch your Alcohol
This is different for every situation but I found that when I drink alcohol, it makes me sore and achy. I choose feeling better over drinking. You also need be aware of what medicine you’re taking. I was on methotrexate for a while, which you can’t drink at all on. Lupus can also attack your liver. In that case, you’d want to drink with caution and talk with your doctor.
Have a Support System
This is also very important. I don’t know where I would be without my friends and family who constantly support me. If you don’t have the support of friends and/or family, find other means. There are plenty of forums and support groups out there. The Lupus Foundation of MN has tons of meetings. If you’re not in MN, search for your local chapter. It can be hard because with lupus, a lot of times you don’t look sick so it’s hard for others to understand what you’re going through. Let people help you if you need it.
Overall, just take care of yourself and try to stay as healthy as possible. I know that’s everyone’s goal, healthy or not, but it’s always good to reiterate. Learn your body’s signs to slow down and listen to it. Learning and listening to your body are 2 different things. Trust me, I know. I may know that my body is not happy and it’s telling me to slow down and can still ignore it. Now if I only followed my own advise all of the time… You have to break the rules sometimes though, right?