Parenting and Lupus
Learning to say "no" is also crucial to stress management. It's a skill that Mitchell had to learn for the sake of her health. "I make things as simple as possible. Take charge of what you can and learn to let go of what you can't."
Frazier's husband and kids also jump in and support her when necessary. When she started to lose her hair, her husband and son offered to shave their heads in solidarity. She was also deeply touched by a conversation she had with her oldest child: "My 18-year-old daughter said to me, 'You took care of us; now it's time for us to take care of you.' "
While support from family members is vital, it's also important that people with lupus find coping strategies that work for them. Writing in a journal, meditating, or taking "me-time" each day are just a few ways to unwind.
For many, spirituality is also a rock in times of crisis. Frazier credits her faith with helping her make it through the tough times. She adds that although life with lupus can be very difficult, she counts herself as lucky because, rather than falling apart under the pressure of life with lupus, her family has become stronger and closer. "Just knowing that I have my family's love and the knowledge that God is in my life, I cope." Then, after a moment, she adds: "We cope."
Robert H. Phillips, Ph.D., a psychologist, founder of the Center for Coping in Hicksville, NY, and author of several books about lupus, offers these tips for busy parents with lupus:
- Develop and maintain a more positive mental attitude. For example, think about situations you're feeling negative about. Ask yourself how you could think about these more positively. Reflect on someone whose attitude is positive, who you admire, and ask yourself what that person would think about in your situation. Focus on realistic, positive things to keep you going in a healthier direction.
- Use relaxation techniques regularly. Listen to relaxation CDs, practice yoga, or meditate to keep stress levels as low as possible.
- Get plenty of rest, but don't use rest to escape. Resting is important for health reasons, not because you want to avoid dealing with your life.
- Minimize worrying, especially about things that are out of your control. Ask yourself, "Is what I'm worrying about going to help me generate solutions to my problem, or give me ideas on what to improve?" If so, plan to work on self-improvement. If not, force yourself to think about other things, things you can do something about.
- Enjoy the presence of your support network-the family members and friends who care about you.
- Schedule time for things you enjoy. This is not a luxury; it's a necessity. There should always be a healthy balance between things you have to do and things you want to do. Make time for hobbies, being with people you like, and catching up on enjoyable phone calls.