May 10, 2021
This past year has been a time of stress for all of us, and especially for people with lupus and other chronic diseases who may already be battling loneliness, anxiety and depression. In recognition, the Lupus Research Alliance is focusing our 2021 Lupus Awareness Month activities to Lift Up Lupus.
To help raise spirits as well as awareness of the connection between lupus and mental health, we bring you this webcast presented by the Young Leaders Board of the Lupus Research Alliance and our friends at Hospital for Special Surgery.
Tips to Lower Stress from Priscilla Toral, LCSW, Hospital for Special Surgery
- Stay connected to your rheumatologist and other healthcare professionals. They need to know how you’re feeling emotionally as well as physically to help you feel better.
- Build a support network of family, friends, peer-to-peer support groups to overcome feelings of isolation even while physical distancing.
- Stay active. Getting exercise like yoga or taking a walk can be a natural anti-depressant.
- Getting outdoors on a lovely day can boost your mood and help with social isolation.
- Seek mental health counseling if your negative feelings last more than a few days. A counselor may suggest talking with a therapist or seeing who may prescribe medication to help with depression and anxiety.
- Prioritize sleep. Getting enough rest is important for your body to be able to fight infections and manage stress. If you have trouble falling asleep, meditation, taking a warm bath, sticking to a consistent sleep schedule and avoiding distractions like phone and TV 30 minutes before bed can help.
- Avoid excessive alcohol or substance use, which can actually increase anxiety.
- Lower stress level. Turning your focus inward with mindfulness tools can relieve anxiety and increase focus. There are many apps to help with deep breathing and meditation.
- Get the facts. The world reopening may bring new worries and anxieties. Talk to your healthcare provider about how to minimize the risk of infection while getting back to your pre-pandemic lifestyle.
- Be kind to yourself. Take the time to mourn the losses in your life from lupus and during this trying time when we are all still getting over the effects of the pandemic.