Sharing the Journey: Practicing Self-Care this Valentine’s Day and Every Day
The Sharing the Journey series is by you and for you. In your own words, we highlight the perspectives and personal experiences of people who struggle with lupus each day.
This month, we asked Sharing the Journey participants the following question:
How do you plan on mentally, emotionally, and physically taking care of yourself this Valentine's Day and throughout the year? And if you use self-management tools, which tools do you use to help you stay on track with self-care?
Self-care is extremely important when you have lupus. In fact, if you don't regularly practice self-care, you are often unable to do the things you want to do as your lupus will get in the way. This year, I am focusing on goal setting and balance. I often find my lupus flares and my body physically falls apart when I am grappling with a difficult decision that is emotionally and mentally taxing. I work in the entertainment industry, so I face difficult decisions with no right or wrong answer every day! I have found that by clarifying goals, I can make decisions with much less stress and with a lesser impact on my health. By understanding how each decision will draw me closer or farther away from my goals, I am able to make a choice much easier. I also strive to ensure that I maintain a healthy work, rest, and social balance in my life. I find that when I focus on one area too much, my physical, mental, and emotional health suffer and I carry around a great deal of stress and anxiety. As my work location often changes, it is difficult to find this balance because it looks different every place I live. However, it allows me to actually be more productive and effective in my work and more open in my relationships when I maintain a healthy mix of all these ingredients in my life. So, this Valentine’s Day, I'm sitting down to clarify my goals for the year and taking a closer look at my calendar and my commitments. - Becca
I plan on eating cleaner and working out in the gym. I have already started journaling and meditating. I moved into a new place and I honestly love having my alone time. I also love cleaning and organizing. - Kyra
I take care of myself by listening to my body and giving myself time to unwind and relax often. Adding Epsom salt and a few drops of peppermint and lavender oil to my bath helps me relax mentally and physically. Going to the beauty salon also helps me because when my hair is done it makes me feel better in some way and that helps me physically throughout the year, especially on the days when I don't have energy to manage my hair myself. - Jaime
For Valentine’s Day and all other days, I feel self-care is very important. Taking the time to relax your body in the tub or with a hot shower, tending to your feet, hands, and cuticles, cuddling up with a book or watching a good movie are all things I do to take care of myself. I also recommend the SELF app because it has some really great tools to follow for self-care. Who can take care of you better than you?! Always take time for yourself! - Angel
Ever since being diagnosed with lupus, self-care has become a daily part of my routine. It's not always easy, especially on busy days, however, putting yourself first is necessary to keeping yourself healthy. My number one way of prioritizing my health is to prevent stress as much as possible. Keeping organized and a carefully planned schedule allows me to prepare myself for stressful situations. If you can prepare for everything in your control, then when something pops up unexpectedly, it's easier to handle if you are not stressed about the rest of your schedule or day. I know this is easier said than done, however, it has really helped me with stress management. On top of planning, I also plan to not plan. Yes, that sounds hypocritical, however, on days I'm not sure how I'll feel (which is very much most days), I make sure to not fully commit and leave my schedule open in case I need rest or if I feel up for more activity. Even just planning specific rest days are important in handling lupus. One more way that I've realized really helps me with handling stressful situations, is to mentally prepare myself. When I'm about to go on a trip and I know it's going to be a very exhausting long day of travel, I make sure to sleep well the week leading up to it, and then I mentally prepare myself when I wake up so that I know to expect a long day. Somehow this really helps me. Just having positive thoughts and telling yourself you can handle it really goes a long way! - Sami
With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, it’s a good reminder to set aside some time regularly to show yourself some love through self-care. Self-care is described as a practice of taking action to preserve or improve one's own mental and physical health. For lupus warriors, who often experience pain, fatigue, brain fog or depression, embracing self-care is extremely important. When prioritizing this, it doesn’t have to require a ton of your time or money. Engaging in simple joys, such as journaling, meditating, staying active or treating yourself to a relaxing spa treatment at home, can revitalize your body and mind and reduce stress levels. Recently, a new online self-management program, Strategies to Embrace Living with Lupus Fearlessly (SELF) was developed by the Lupus Foundation of America to help people with lupus better manage their self-care. A wealth of resources and tools are made readily available within the program, making it easier for people to find support, track their symptoms and more.