Tips to Lower Stress During Stress Awareness Month and Beyond
If you are a person with lupus and often feel stress, you’re not alone! Research has shown stress is common among people dealing with a chronic condition like lupus and can cause symptoms like depression, fatigue, and disease flares. In recognition of Stress Awareness Month, we are pleased to share the following 10 tips that Priscilla Calvache, LCSW, Hospital for Special Surgery has found helpful in supporting people with lupus.
- 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 professional can work with you to understand your thoughts, feelings and behaviors and can help you cope with stressors in your life. Talk therapy has been proven to be very beneficial in helping people through difficult challenges such as coping with a chronic illness.
- 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. Talk with your doctor or mental health professional about more effective ways to improve your mood.
- Lower stress level. Turning your focus inward with mindfulness-based tools can relieve anxiety and increase focus. Just 10 minutes of quiet reflection, deep breathing or guided imagery may bring relief from stress and can increase your tolerance for it. There are many free apps to help with deep breathing and meditation.
- Get the facts. Talk to your healthcare provider about how to minimize the risk of COVID-19 infection as the world continues to adjust to the pandemic.
- Be kind to yourself. Some days may be harder than others and it’s important to follow your body’s cues. If you need to incorporate more rest in your day, go for it.
- Find lupus support: Joining a support group, participating in educational presentations and connecting with others with lupus can help to reduce isolation and build a community of support. Lupus does not define you! You are more than your illness and remaining positive and hopeful is an important part of your journey.
Managing Stress & Lupus will also be the focus of a virtual program hosted by the Hospital for Special Surgery Monday, May 22nd, 5:30pm (EST)/2:30pm (PDT). Click here for more details.