New Year, New You!
It's a new year! Time to try some new things.
ONE: Read "The Lupus Encyclopedia" By Dr. Don Thomas, M.D., FACP, FACR: Every lupus patient must have a copy of this book. This is the BEST comprehensive guide for patients and families. In my opinion, it is worth its weight in gold. Make this be the year that you have this exceptional resource by your side to help guide you to a healthier life in 2023.
TWO: Vitamin D: Make 2023 the year that you commit to treating Vitamin D like a life-saving medication…. because it is. It is crucial that you talk to your doctor about what is the best dose of D for you. Low levels of Vitamin D are associated with worse disease outcomes, depression, and even more significant COVID-19 symptoms and fatality! Lupus patients are prone to deficiency, so it's time to dial up the D!
THREE: Start A Gratitude Journal: Being grateful is the antidote to getting stuck in a suffering mindset in 2023. Research on gratitude has shown that people who regularly practice gratitude experience improvements in their physical, psychological, and social well-being. These benefits include stronger immune systems, reduced stress, decreased depression, lower blood pressure, better sleep, and increased feelings of joy, optimism, and happiness. Take a moment every day to count your blessings and not your calamities. Here is a great template to get you started. FOUR: Use Sunscreen: A high percentage of lupus patients live with photosensitivity. It is imperative to ALWAYS guard yourself with a safe and effective form of sunscreen to ensure those UVA and UVB rays are not causing damage to your skin or flaring your lupus. I like this one from Neutrogena. FIVE: Read "Learned Optimism" By Martin. E. P. Seligman, Ph. D.: Do you feel like 2022 was a “I just give up” kind of a year? If so, try reading Dr. Seligman’s book on how to change that type of mindset. His years of research has determined that optimism enhances the quality of life, and how anyone can learn to practice it. Offering simple techniques, Dr. Seligman explains how to break an “I—give-up” habit and experience the benefits of a more positive interior dialogue.
SIX: Improve Your Sleep Hygiene: Struggle with restless sleep? Try a weighted blanket! I use this one and I love it! It keeps me calm, snuggly, yet cool. For more tips on improving sleep hygiene, check out this blog from www.lupusencyclopedia.com SEVEN: Learn How to Say No: I am sure you have heard this before, so I will keep it brief: if you keep forcing yourself to live up to other people's expectations, you will burn out. Time to prioritize. If you would like a book to help you navigate this process from a spiritual perspective try, this one.
EIGHT: Read "Finding Meaning" By David Kessler: Having trouble finding meaning in your pain? Do you feel like you are continuously grieving your before lupus life? Kessler's book does a phenomenal job of providing insights to exploring the meaning of your lived experience and his words are comforting and healing along the way. NINE: Love Your Body: For the love of chocolate, let 2023 be the year that you ROCK WHAT YOU’VE GOT! You are given one life to live, and too many of us squandered our days away in 2022 hiding ourselves, because we were ashamed of the unsatisfactory image, we think we reflect. We think we cannot start living until we reach a certain goal weight, our skin clears up, or our hair grows back. We are constantly rejecting ourselves. Enough is enough. Time to shine. TEN: Try To Forgive: “To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.” - Lewis B. Smedes. Let me be clear: forgiveness is not minimizing the seriousness of the offense, forgiveness is not about doing what is fair, forgiveness is not reconciliation, and forgiveness is CERTAINLY NOT about the other person. Forgiveness is about you releasing the grip of power that someone else's choices has had on you. Making the choice every day to be re-released from that anger, pain, and hurt. ELEVEN: Be Intentional with Your Time: “Time is what we want most, but what we use worst.” - William Penn. We have a finite number of days on this earth, and it is up to us to use them wisely. Time is our most valuable commodity. Use it well. And remember that it’s quality not quantity that counts. Keep it simple and connect with your loved ones in a way that makes sense for your lifestyle and relationships. Share mealtime together, play a game, be silly, have conversations without technology interruptions.
TWELVE: Improve Your Self-care: “Self-care is never a selfish act—it is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on earth to offer to others.”-Parker Palmer. Self-care isn’t vanity, self-righteousness, or narcissism. It isn’t overindulgence either. It is the acknowledgement that if you don’t take care of yourself, you will not be able to take care of others. It can be as simple as lighting your favorite candle or using some of your favorite bath salts. However, it is something that will have a detrimental effect on your future if you forgo it. THIRTEEN: Make Plans to Connect: We, as a species, are wired for connection. Whether it be an event, or a virus like Covid-19, we are wired to connect with each other during difficult times. Try making plans for a socially distant hang, join a Zoom support group, or send a friendly text or voicemail. A moment of quality interaction can have a lasting impact. Who knows, maybe one year you will look back on 2023 as the year you grew closer with your family by making unique memories, not another year of the pandemic rut.
FOURTEEN: Be Open with Your Doctors About Goals: It is important that both the patient and the doctor be open with each other and share the best available evidence and ideas when faced with making decisions. Patients should be supported to consider options and encouraged to achieve informed preferences to treatment and have health goals supported. If you feel like your doctor is not supportive of your health goals (that are within reason), time to seek another opinion. Let 2023 be the year that you make significant progress in your physical and mental health! FIFTEEN: Improve Your Health Literacy: If you want to take an active role in managing your illness, it is important to have a basic understanding of what is happening to your body. It is also important to understand what medications you are taking, potential side-effects, and research lab results. Improving your health literacy helps improve communication between you and your health care team. If you are looking for ways to improve your health literacy, start here. SIXTEEN: Stop Fighting Against Your Pain: When we reject our pain; we reject ourselves. For our pain is a part of us...and our story. Pain is not a bad thing. In fact, I would argue that it’s pretty miraculous. Our Creator made our bodies in such a magnificent way that our brain sends millions of signals to different parts of our body every moment. Pain is the body’s alert system to say, hold on - what’s going on, let’s figure this out. The problem is that we as humans are constantly fighting against our pain. We either ignore it or ignite it. Meaning, we dismiss it and pretend it's not there, or we over-focus and give it all our fuel, energy, and it becomes the north star of our life. Instead of seeing it as what it is - a helpful reminder to pay attention to our bodies. For more information on finding peace with your pain, check out “Freedom From Suffering” By Dr. Stephen Grinstead. SEVENTEEN: Take a Technology Time-Out: There is no other way to say this, but we are in a digital depression. In the past decade, since the innovation of the smartphone and social media platforms, there has been an increase in depression and anxiety. We are constantly in stimulus overload, and it can cloud our minds and pick away at what’s really important. REAL relationships. Time to take a technology time-out. Put your phone away for a few hours a day. Go outside and get some fresh air and leave the iPhone indoors.
EIGHTEEN: Eat The Right Foods for Your Body! Try keeping a food journal and tracking how you feel after meals. Think about trying the Mediterranean Diet! This meal plan is high in fruits and vegetables, as well as healthy fatty foods like fish, nuts, and olive oil. Research has shown that the traditional Mediterranean diet reduces the risk of heart disease. Since cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death in SLE, it is important to be proactive with protecting your heart. NINETEEN: Serve: St. Francis of Assisi said, “It is through giving that we receive.” A study done at the University of Virginia found that merely witnessing acts of kindness, loyalty, and heroism created a significant elevation in mood and increased the desire to perform good deeds. How do you serve someone during a pandemic? Try sending an encouraging note in the mail, make a check-in phone call, or leave something special on someone's doorstep.
TWENTY: Laugh More! “A good laugh and a long sleep are the best cures in the doctor’s book.” - Irish proverb. Nothing works faster or more dependably to bring your mind and body back into balance than a good laugh. Humor lightens your burdens, inspires hope, connects you to others, and keeps you grounded, focused, and alert. It also helps you release anger and forgive sooner. Whatever you can do to bring some more laughter into your life, do it! TWENTY ONE: Don't forsake the things that bring you joy, just because you have lupus. Is there a class you have been yearning to take? Several schools, gyms, museums, and studios are offering classes and opportunities to enjoy services virtually, many free of charge! Reconnecting with an old passion or taking this time to improve a craft or skill is not only a stress reliever, but a positive spin on “sheltering in place.” Today is the first day of the rest of your life! Time to put the joy back where it belongs. Your lupus should not be a deterrent - it should be a catalytic reminder to not waste a single day of your one wild and precious life.
Written By: Kelli (Casas) Roseta **All resources provided by this blog are for informational purposes only, not to replace the advice of a medical professional. Kelli encourages you to always contact your medical provider with any specific questions or concerns regarding your illness. All intellectual property and content on this site and in this blog is owned by morethanlupus.com. This includes materials protected by copyright, trademark, or patent laws. Copyright, More Than Lupus 2023. January 2023