Five things you can do right now to jump start a healthier you
- Schedule an appointment. One of the most important things you can do for your health is to stay on top of your medical appointments. Communication with your doctor is key, and often, the best communication happens face to face during an appointment. Don’t let long wait times for appointments deter you. Remember that old saying, “a bird in hand is better than two in the bush”? A far away appointment that is already made is better than an upcoming appointment that doesn’t exist yet. Learn more about preparing for a doctor’s appointment. Here are some helpful questions to ask your rheumatologist.
- Make a plan to quit smoking. If you smoke, quitting is one of the best ways to improve your health. Scientific studies have shown that smoking worsens and complicates the negative effects of lupus, impacting the entire body. Whatever method you use to quit smoking, you’ll be most successful if you do some prep work and formulate a plan. You can formulate a plan for quitting in less than 20 minutes. Visit smokefree.gov to build a quit plan and access tools and resources specific to quitting.
- Take stock of your mental health. Taking care of your mental health is just as important to your wellbeing as taking care of your physical health. Take a few minutes to learn more about depression and lupus—if you identify with several of the symptoms of clinical depression listed, it’s a good idea to seek support. There are many ways to get the support you need. Depression can be treated, and it’s not a burden you need to carry alone. Whether you begin by talking to your doctor, scheduling an appointment with a counselor or therapist, confiding in a trusted friend, or beginning a journal, the most important first step is to acknowledge and accept your feelings.
- Start lists and check them twice. You know better than anyone else that lupus can be a complex disease. Symptoms are constantly changing, and there are often many medications to manage, not to mention doctor’s appointments. Whether you use your smartphone, computer or pen and paper, it’s important to track all of this information. Consider enlisting the help of a trusted friend or family member if you find the tracking overwhelming.
- Give yourself permission to say no. Saying “no” isn’t easy, whether you are saying no to a task you have set for yourself or to one that someone else may be expecting from you. Nevertheless, it’s one of the most valuable skills you can learn for your overall health and happiness because it gives you the ability to take time for yourself. Not only does this allow you to get the critical rest that your body needs, but it opens a space for you to listen to your body and your thoughts so you can learn when to push yourself and when to take a break.
Sarah Gilman, MPH, CHES
Owner, Wayfinder Health Strategies
As a health educator, Sarah develops programs and materials that help people understand and learn to live well with lupus and other chronic diseases. Read Bio