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Managing Stress with Lupus

Living with lupus can be stressful. And stress can trigger your lupus symptoms or make them worse. But you can take steps to manage stress and protect your health.

Try these tips to manage stress when you have lupus.

Know the signs and sources of your stress

The first step to managing stress is recognizing your symptoms. When you’re stressed, you may feel:

  • Worried
  • Angry
  • Unable to focus

You may also have physical symptoms, like headaches or trouble sleeping. Or you may notice your lupus symptoms getting worse.

Next, think about what’s causing your stress. For example, do you feel stressed at work or during doctor’s visits? Try keeping track of your stress symptoms and sources in a diary. That way, you can be more aware of what triggers your stress and make a plan to manage it.

Feeling stressed about COVID-19?

If you’re feeling stress related to COVID-19, get tips for coping during the pandemic.

Plan ahead

Planning ahead for stressful situations — or even for everyday tasks — can help you feel calm and prepared. Try these strategies:

  • If you have a busy day ahead, plan things the night before — like what you’ll wear, what you’ll eat for lunch, and how you’ll get from place to place
  • If you find doctor visits stressful, write down all your questions for the doctor before you go
  • If you’re nervous about a work meeting or a tricky conversation with a friend or loved one, try planning what you’ll say ahead of time
  • And if you have trouble remembering your plans, write them down in the notes app on your phone or in a notebook — that way, you’ll have one less thing to worry about

Make time to relax

When you’re stressed and crunched for time, relaxing may not feel like a priority. But taking time to rest can give you more energy for all the other things on your list! Try these tips:

  • Plan breaks to recharge. Try scheduling a 20-minute break during your workday or setting aside 1 day every weekend to just relax.
  • Set boundaries. It’s okay to say no to invitations — everyone needs some down time.
  • Be honest with friends and family. If you need to cancel plans or commitments to take care of your health, the people who care about you will understand.

Once you’ve blocked off time to relax, you may find the best thing to do is nothing at all! Or you can try relaxing activities like:

  • Reading, watching a favorite TV show, or listening to calming music
  • Doing yoga or meditation to clear your mind
  • Drawing, writing, or doing another creative activity

Build healthy routines

A healthy lifestyle can help lower your stress levels and help manage lupus symptoms. Build these healthy habits:

  • Get enough sleep. Sleep is key to keeping stress — and your lupus symptoms — under control.
  • Be active. Physical activity can help reduce stress, and you can start to feel the benefits right away!
  • Eat healthy. When your body is getting all the nutrients it needs, you’re able to handle stress more easily.

Take care of your mental health

Stress can also raise your risk for mental health problems like depression and anxiety. And these problems affect many people with lupus. Research has shown that people with lupus often have higher rates of anxiety and depression than those without lupus.

The good news is that there are treatments that can help. If you think you might have depression or anxiety, talk with your doctor and make a treatment plan.

Get support

Stress can make you feel overwhelmed and isolated. But remember that you’re not alone, and there are people who can help. Try these tips to find support:

  • Ask your health care team about ways to manage stress — or about getting mental health treatment or seeing a therapist or counselor
  • Reach out to friends and family — talking and spending time with loved ones can be a great stress reliever

Talk to other people with lupus at a support group— that way, you can share your experiences with people who are also living with lupus

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