Coping With Autoimmune Disease
Are you currently coping with an autoimmune disease? If so, I see you and you’re not alone! Over 50 million people suffer with autoimmune diseases in the United States alone. And, according to recent research, women are twice as likely to develop autoimmune diseases than men.
For those of you that might be new to the world of autoimmune disorders, let’s talk about what an autoimmune disease actually is. An autoimmune disease is a condition in which your immune system mistakenly attacks healthy cells throughout the body. And unfortunately, autoimmune conditions have no cure. For more information, be sure to check out the most common autoimmune diseases in the United States.
Since being diagnosed with Hashimoto’s disease, I’ve realized just how tough it can be to manage the symptoms of autoimmune diseases each and every day. Not only do you never know when you might experience a flare-up, but treatments for various autoimmune diseases can also be very unpredictable. Trust me when I say, all of this can totally take a toll on your overall health and well-being.
So, if you’re like me, and you’ve been diagnosed with one or more of over 80 autoimmune diseases, it’s important to learn various ways to cope with your disease. As you do more research about your specific autoimmune disease and its environmental triggers, you will find the best coping strategies for yourself. Until then, here are some general tips to keep in mind that can help you effectively cope with any autoimmune disease and live your life to the fullest!
Coping With Autoimmune Disease
When it comes to coping with an autoimmune disease, remember to start small. Start by setting small, easily achievable goals, and work towards them at your own pace. At times like this, it is easy to compare our progress to others. But, this is not the most efficient way of coping with chronic illnesses.
Autoimmune disorders are unique to each person. This means that someone with the same disorder as you may experience completely different side effects. And, thus, require completely different coping methods. In light of this, we should strive to create and achieve our own individual goals, rather than taking on the extra stress and worry of achieving large goals in a short period of time.
Reduce Your Stress-Levels
One of the best ways to reduce symptoms and flare-ups of autoimmune conditions is to reduce those stress levels. I know, easier said than done. But still, this coping strategy is one of the best ways to manage your disease while maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
To reduce your stress levels, try to identify and remove as many active stressors from your life as possible. Other methods of stress management could include taking a bath, going for a walk, meditating, practicing yoga, journaling, and so on.
Regular physical activity can help you cope with your autoimmune disease in many ways. Exercising not only makes you feel happier and healthier, but it can also relieve tension, stress, and muscle and joint pain. Staying active is especially helpful for those dealing with autoimmune conditions like multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis that directly affect muscles, joints, and the ability to move freely.
Just remember to go easy on yourself! Start with a gentle and gradual workout routine and be sure to always pace yourself. For tips on exercising with autoimmune disorders, be sure to read my do’s and don’ts of exercising with Hashimoto’s disease. A lot of what I’ve learned about exercising with Hashimoto’s can be applied to most other autoimmune diseases.
Get Plenty Of Rest
When living with an autoimmune disease, it’s important to make sure you get plenty of rest. This way, you have the energy and mental capacity to deal with the side effects of your autoimmune disorder. And thus, better manage it. A good sleep routine can reduce stress on the mind and body, promote the healing of joints and muscles, and help your immune system fight off infections and colds.
Try to establish a regular sleep routine that involves going to bed at a reasonable time, getting at least 7 hours of sleep, and waking early in the morning. Believe me, when I say, this will have a huge positive impact on your overall life. And even though I know this, at times it’s still something I struggle with.
Eat A Healthy & Balanced Diet
Maintaining a healthy and balanced diet can reduce flare-ups as well as improve your energy levels and immune system. In fact, common chronic illnesses such as Hashimoto’s disease, Grave’s disease, and celiac disease are directly linked to eating a healthy diet.
To cope with your autoimmune condition, be sure to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. You should also make absolutely sure that you’re getting your daily value of protein, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients required for optimal health. In addition to eating healthy, you may want to consider taking additional supplements of essential vitamins and minerals. But, before starting any new medication or supplements, be sure to speak to your health care provider.
Eating a healthy and balanced diet also means cutting out unhealthy foods and foods that trigger autoimmune flare-ups. Common foods that trigger flare-ups include spicy foods, fried foods, gluten, dairy, and any foods that include refined sugar or excess amounts of caffeine. Many people who suffer with chronic illness practice a gluten-free diet or the autoimmune paleo diet (AIP). Both focus on cutting out inflammatory foods that tend to trigger autoimmune responses.
Reach Out To Friends & Family
A common misconception is that you have to learn to deal with your autoimmune symptoms all on your own. Let me be the first to tell you, this is not true! When it comes to living with an autoimmune condition, it’s important to have a strong support system in your corner.
When struggling with your disease, reach out to friends and family for support. There are several ways that your support system can offer assistance during this period of time. These include helping around the house, cooking, providing a distraction, and being a good listener.
Many people who live with autoimmune diseases also often seek out online or in-person support groups. Support groups offer a safe place to discuss your disease with others. As well as an opportunity to learn management strategies from others who may be dealing with similar issues.
Give Yourself A Break
Sometimes, the best way to cope with your autoimmune disease is to give yourself a break. Take some time to focus on self-care, a hobby, a TV show, or anything else that can take your mind off of your illness for a short period of time. Once you’ve taken a break, you will be so much more motivated to take good care of yourself and better cope with your autoimmune disease.
Seek Professional Help
When all else fails, don’t hesitate to seek professional help. Professional intervention can be beneficial for many reasons. From learning how to manage your symptoms to learning which environmental triggers to avoid, there is much knowledge to be gained from autoimmune professionals. Plus, an autoimmune specialist will be able to prescribe necessary medications for disease management as well as provide plenty of advice about your specific disease and how to cope with it.
Coping With An Autoimmune Disease Takes Time And Patience
Because autoimmune diseases are incurable, coping with them takes some serious time and patience. When it comes to my autoimmune disease, I’m still learning new information about Hashimoto’s each and every day. The good news is, coping with your medical condition only gets easier and easier over time!
For more tips on living your healthiest life while coping with an autoimmune disorder, be sure to check out my healthy habits that are non-negotiable. And, to help prevent flare-ups, be sure to check out these tips for staying healthy over the Holidays! If you found this blog helpful, be sure to check back in as we continue our discussion about chronic illnesses. And, as always, I wish you guys the best of luck when it comes to managing your autoimmune disease.
Kartika Henderson Lennon
Really enjoyed reading this. Can totally relate and so helps to share with others how you feel otherwise dealing with ongoing chronic illnesses can feel so lonely. Thanks for sharing your experiences