Lupus is stressful. The COVID-19 pandemic is stressful. Having lupus during a pandemic can be REALLY stressful. We, at More Than Lupus, have enlisted a “QuaranTEAM” to provide you with information and helpful strategies to manage your mind, body, and souls well-being during this unpredictable and emotional time.
- M I N D -
“A good laugh and a long sleep are the best cures in the doctor’s book.”
- Irish proverb
Lupus “QuaranTEAM” Suggestions:
Make time for yourself: During quarantine, it is essential to schedule time for healthy self-soothing. Whether you are working from home, crisis schooling, being a full-time parent, or otherwise, it can be difficult to define (and find) downtime for yourself. However, with lupus, it is imperative to be aware of when your body needs to take a break...before it breaks. Try setting aside scheduled time for self-soothing that may include: listening to music, reading a book, doing stretches, exercise, or taking an Epsom salt bath.
Social distance...together: Our minds need and crave contact with other people. Human connection is essential for good health, especially when life presents situations that can cause increased anxiety like a global pandemic. Thanks to technology, we now have the ability to connect virtually whenever we need to see a friendly face or have conversations with family. Take this opportunity to schedule virtual happy hours, double-dates, and hangouts with friends and family. Read your grandkids a bedtime story, Facetime with siblings at dinner or enjoy ice cream together, or join a watch party of your favorite movie or show. Connection is just one “click” away!
Take a class: 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.” Grow where you are planted, even if you are planted in a pandemic.
Schedule a virtual therapy session: If social isolation is beginning to change your mood and wear on you, our lupus “QuaranTEAM” suggests reaching out to a mental health provider and scheduling a virtual therapy session. On a more serious note, if you are experiencing any sort of physical or emotional abuse, and feel unsafe at home, please reach out to this number immediately.
- B O D Y -
“The greatest of follies is to sacrifice health for any other kind of happiness.”
- Arthur Schopenhauer
Lupus “QuaranTEAM” Suggestions:
Sleep: Whether you are working full time or have been temporarily furloughed, it is essential to keep a regular sleep schedule and practice good sleep hygiene. There have been studies showing that lack of sleep can decrease immunity and that is NOT what you want during a pandemic! Make sure your sleep environment is cool, dark, and quiet. Limit screens all blue spectrum light before bed. Try a weighted blanket, we like this one.
Vitamin D: Vitamin D is a very important hormone that has several significant functions. Referred to as the “sunshine” vitamin because our bodies produce it in response to sunlight, vitamin D can also be absorbed through certain foods and supplements. Vitamin D aids in the absorption of calcium and phosphorus, and regulates the immune system. Having the correct amount of D is important for normal growth and development as well as protection against certain diseases. Recently, more research has surfaced about how low levels of Vitamin D were associated with severe COVID cases as well as COVID mortalities. Talk to your doctor about taking a Vitamin D supplement, if you are not already prescribed one.
Exercise: The most common symptom people with lupus live with is fatigue, and the only thing that has clinically been proven to help with fatigue is exercise. Now, if the gym is not your thing, that’s okay (in fact, save yourself the exposure to germs) but look for other fun ways of getting exercise. Taking a socially distanced walk with a bestie or doing a virtual Zumba or yoga class in your garage - are great ways to get your heart pumping and endorphins kicking! Exercise does not only help with lupus fatigue, but it can help with anxiety, depression, sleep, cardiovascular health, and pain.
Be careful of unhealthy self-soothing sabotage: Okay, honesty zone. We all have our self-soothing indulgences. In times of stress, I tend to eat chocolate like it's going out of style. Some people try to calm or numb their stress by drinking, eating junk food, or even doing drugs. Though these things may temporarily distract you or give you a “rush” they will affect your health negatively long term. Be mindful about your tendencies and habits. And remember, everything in moderation.
Don't be lazy with your labs: We know what you are thinking, there's a pandemic out there and you don't want to leave your sanitized bubble. Your "QuaranTEAM" gets that. However, you have to stay on top of your lupus labs. If you miss your labs, you could get yourself into trouble, and end up earning a nice stay at the ER or "Club MED"-ical hospital. Make sure you are following your doctors orders, taking your medication exactly as prescribed, and getting those labs done. TIP: *Call ahead and ask how busy they are and what the slowed time of day is*
- S O U L -
“When the heart is at ease, the body is healthy.”
- Chinese proverb
Lupus “QuaranTEAM” Suggestions:
Mindfulness: Mindfulness is the state of being present and fully engaged in whatever is going on at the moment. It is an acceptance of your present state, good or bad, without judgement. Practicing mindfulness during this time in history is important, because it can help you process your feelings about your lupus and COVID-19 in a healthy way and accept the things that you cannot change. The Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu once said “If you are depressed, you are living in the past. If you are anxious, you are living in the future. If you are at peace, you are living in the present.” Now, I am assuming he was referring to situational depression and anxiety, not clinical, but you get the idea.
Here is a great mindfulness exercise to remember the next time you feel overwhelmed:
S - Stop what you’re doing and take a moment to be still
T - Take a few deep breaths and just be aware that you’re breathing
O - Observe any sensations in your body, thoughts in your mind, emotions in your heart
P - Pause to come back to your breath, then proceed with your day with greater calm
Gratitude: Okay, let’s call a spade a spade...2020 has been wack. But, even-so, there are still things to be grateful for, to be inspired by, and to find joy in. So try this, when you wake up in the morning, no matter how you may be feeling, say these words to yourself “I CHOOSE JOY.” Then, try making a mental list of 5 things you are thankful for. Author M. J. Ryan, who wrote the book 365 Health and Happiness Boosters explains, “If you only focus on what’s wrong, you will not experience joy. You will experience discouragement, depression, and low self-esteem. But when you focus on what’s right about a situation—the exact same situation—you’re increasing the possibility that you will experience joy and high happiness.” So tomorrow, try counting your blessings – not your calamities.
Meditation/Prayer: Max Lucado once said, “A season of suffering is a small assignment when compared to the reward. Rather than begrudge your problem, explore it. Ponder it. And most of all, use it…” Meditation is an excellent way to help silence the internal “noise” that may be affecting you physically as well. Anne Frank, who I admire deeply once said, “A quiet conscience makes one strong!” Taking time to be still, be quiet, and take a few deep breaths every day can help not only de-stress but recharge. If you need some assistance, here are some fantastic guided meditation apps! Insight Timer, Stop, Breathe & Think, Calm and Headspace.
Serving: 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. According to happiness researcher Sonja Lyubomirsky, PhD, those that participate in helping others have a generally more joyful attitude. She states, “There are lots of consequences that come from showing kindness that make you happier and help you stay happy.” She adds, “…and being happy is the key antecedent to joy.” And as my homeboy St. Francis of Assisi adds, “it is through giving that we receive.” 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 someones door step.
We hope that these tips from our More Than Lupus “QuaranTEAM” provide you with new insights on how to live everyday to the fullest!
Behavioral Health Services
National Counseling Services
National Suicide Prevention
CDC Covid-19 Prevention
Lupus and Covid-19 Frequently Asked Questions
**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 2020.