Now that the holiday season is in full swing, filled with joyous celebrations and festive gatherings, as someone living with lupus, you may find yourself facing unique challenges. The combination of a more hectic schedule, colder weather, and potential stressors can impact both your physical and mental well-being. As a health and wellness coach specializing in lupus care, and as a lupus patient myself, I know how crucial proactive self-care is during this season. Let's explore some valuable tips to help you not only navigate but truly thrive during the holidays.
TIP 1: Prioritize Your Rest and Sleep
The hustle and bustle of the holiday season can be demanding, but it's crucial for individuals with lupus to prioritize rest and ensure they get enough sleep sleep. Fatigue is one of our most troubling symptoms of lupus, and lack of sleep can make this much worse. You can be proactive by creating a sleep-friendly environment. This means maintaining a consistent sleep schedule (sleeping and waking up at the same time everyday, even weekends), dimming the lights in your house 2-3 hours before bedtime, and limiting screen time at least one hour before bed to promote better sleep quality.
TIP 2: Make Mindful Nutrition Choices
The holiday season often brings a plethora of delicious but potentially inflammatory foods. For those managing lupus, it's essential to be mindful of dietary choices to support our health. Opt for an anti-inflammatory diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains. This is not to say that you should not indulge at all during the holidays and my advice is to try to follow the anti-inflammatory way of eating at least 80% of the time during the holiday season. This leaves space for the indulgences you really love and look forward to like your aunts pumpkin pie or favorite treats in your stocking.
TIP 3: Stay Active in a Gentle Way
Engage in low-impact activities such as walking, or gentle yoga to promote mobility, improve circulation, boost mood and improve joint pain. I get my family together each year to bundle up and take a walk after Christmas dinner. This has become one of our family traditions and something we all look forward to after a large meal. Of course, if you have been sedentary for a while, listen to your body and consult with your healthcare team before starting anything new.
TIP 4:Manage Stress with Mindfulness
The holiday season can be emotionally charged, and as we know too well-- stress can exacerbate lupus symptoms. Incorporate mindfulness practices into your daily routine, such as meditation, deep breathing exercises, or guided imagery. These techniques can help you manage stress, promote mental well-being, and contribute to a sense of calm and balance.
TIP 5: Set Realistic Expectations for Yourself and Others
It's easy to get caught up in the excitement of the holidays and say yes to more invitations than you should. Setting realistic expectations is crucial and that starts with not only recognizing your limitations but getting clear on which activities bring you joy and which activities drain you. I wait 2-3 days before accepting any invitations around this time of year so I can make more thoughtful decisions about where I spend my time and valuable energy. It is helpful to communicate your needs to friends and family and ask for support when necessary.
TIP 6: Stay Warm and Dress Appropriately
Cold weather can be challenging for lupus warriors, and can exacerbate symptoms like joint pain, stiffness, and Reynaud’s. Set yourself up for success when venturing outdoors by dressing warmly in layers, wear gloves and a hat, and consider investing in heated accessories to stay comfortable outdoors. Keep your home at a comfortable temperature, and use blankets to stay cozy.
TIP 7: Connect with Your Support System
The holiday season is a time for connection, and building a strong support system is especially important for individuals with lupus. Surround yourself with understanding friends and family members who are aware of your condition and can offer support when needed. Call on the support group members at LFNC to exchange ideas on how they are making the best of the holiday season. And of course, don't hesitate to seek professional help if you find yourself struggling emotionally.
As a health and wellness coach, my goal is to empower individuals with lupus to thrive, not just survive, during the holiday season. By prioritizing rest, making mindful nutrition choices, staying active in a gentle way, managing stress, setting realistic expectations, staying warm, and connecting with a support system, you can navigate the holidays with grace and take care of both your physical and mental health. Remember, self-care is not a luxury but a necessity, and by investing in your well-being, you can make the most of the festive season while managing lupus effectively. Setareh Banisadr, Health and Wellness Coach, Setareh Health
The Lupus Foundation is so honored to have lupus patients, like Setareh, who share their time and expertise! As Setareh mentioned the LFNC has many different ways of helping you through this holiday season, you can sign up for a virtual support group, watch one of Julie's mediation videos or do a gentle workout with Regan Birr! All of these resources are free and can be found on our website. Select what you are interested in below!
Please remember all of our patient programs are funded by generous donations! It is not too late to make your end of year donation!
The Lupus Foundation of Northern California's Staff and Board of Directors wish you and those you love a happy and healthy holiday season!
As we move into the middle of Autumn we want to take a moment to reflect on our very busy Summer and also let you know what we have planned for the rest of the year!!
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