6 Things to Do During a Lupus Flare

meditation-woman

Body aches and pains all over your body. Swollen joints. Major fatigue.

You have experienced all of these symptoms and more. They are triggered once a month to once every few months. They throw you off and at times can require hospitalization. They can be very sudden or they can creep up on you slowly.

Unpredictability of lupus flare ups is sadly one of this disease’s most maddening features.

It can be very frustrating to go for months or years without a “flare,” then wake up one day with symptoms like headache, lethargy or the butterfly rash on the face. Unfortunately, lupus flares are all too common.

Almost half of all lupus patients have a flare at any given point during the year. Flares last from just a few days up to several months. Not surprisingly, flares can take a bigger emotional toll on your friends and family than on you.

Your friends and your family members may realize, especially if it has been a long time between flare-ups, that they are a painful reminder that lupus can change the quality of your daily life in an instant.

What causes these flare ups can be a mystery. But, how you approach them can make a world of difference in your journey with lupus.

Could these symptoms be caused by working long hours, not sleeping enough, or having too much stress at work or home? Any form of stress can trigger your delicate immune systems. Here is a list of some of the crucial things I have done to minimize these symptoms. I hope you find them helpful:

Slow down your crazy schedule to prevent lupus flares1. Slow down your crazy daily schedule. Work, traffic, dinner, pick up the kids. You may feel as if there aren’t enough hours in the day. Try ordering dinner in. Trade babysitting time with a friend. You may consider hiring a housekeeper, even just once a month could help. Sleep an extra hour if possible. For most of us, this is probably easier to do by going to bed earlier than getting up earlier in the morning.

2. Invite and accept help. Relatives and friends can play important roles in helping people with lupus handle the effects of a flare. Just accepting help with household chores is an example of what can be a tremendous relief for someone in the midst of a flare. Invite people who are close to you to be part of the recovery process. Let your family in, without being a ‘burden.’ Kids don’t mind helping if it is just one more thing expected of them.

3. Give yourself a small, fun, relaxing treat.  How about getting a  manicure/pedicure or spa treatment? Beauty schools offer them at a discount. Steal an hour alone in the park, buy a new book, head to the nearest cafe with your favorite magazine and get some mental downtime.

4. Meditate. Meditation has been found to help reduce anxiety. Give your mind some quiet time.  Sit for 5 minutes, close your eyes and take in a deep breath from the belly, count for 7 seconds, hold for 7 seconds, and breathe out for 7 seconds. You can easily do this while sitting in your kitchen, your office, on your couch, in the park, or even in your car (at a stoplight or at the beginning or end of your drive.)

5. Restorative yoga. Yoga benefits mind, body and spirit. It has been found to help with pain and improve sleep quality and mood.  This is by far the most gentle form of yoga, primarily all on the floor in relaxing poses. I love taking this kind of yoga, even when not in a flare.

6. Take Hot baths. For some this could be a dream, but for others with lots of painful joints, this could be a too much heat, so lower the temperature or avoid all together.  If you only feel fatigue and mild achiness, a hot bath can work wonders. Same with massage. For me, I was so sore afterwards, I steered clear. But if fatigue is the only symptom, this could be heavenly.  Add your favorite scented bath salt, such as lavender or even just epsom salt to help soothe the muscles.

Until next time,