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4 tried and true tips for enjoying the season!

Hailey Hudson is a young author, blogger, and freelance writer from the mountains of north Georgia. She loves softball, Harry Potter, and her beagle puppy, Sophie. Click here to buy her debut book and follow along as she pursues her career in writing and children’s ministry by following her blog:

When I was younger, Thanksgiving and Christmas were my favorite times of the year. I loved the parties, the lights; anything and everything associated with the holidays. But two years ago, I was diagnosed with a chronic fatigue illness, and things changed. Many times, I was just too tired to enjoy all the holidays. Through trial and error, I’ve discovered a few tips to help me: I’d like to share them with you with you in the hope that what works for me might help you enjoy the upcoming holidays.

Have an escape plan. You may need to have an escape or a backup plan for the season. Tell everyone that your plans need to be tentative and why: over partying and stress bring flares. Never missing an opportunity to educate, explain why committing to everything can be stressful and how stress affects you.

Or, you may need a backup plan for each event. For example, if I have a party or an activity in the evening, I try to get someone else to drive me, because I know I might be too sleepy to drive when the party ends.

Tell people what to expect Do you need a nap each afternoon? Do you have food sensitivities? Does your medicine need to be taken exactly thirty minutes before a meal? What a tremendous opportunity to educate other people. For example, while assisting the hostess prepare hors d’oeuvres, you can tell her that you’re unable to eat ‘x’  because it affects how a medication that you take, works. Bu, tell her that that won’t affect her because you brought a few things that you can pop into the microwave.

More than likely, people will be happy to accommodate you so you’ll enjoy the festivities. If you’re on a restricted diet and have enough energy, bring food so that you know you’ll have at least a few things to eat.

As much as possible, try to space things out. I do this all year round—if I have an all-day event, I know that I’ll need to rest for the entire next day. So, I try to leapfrog days when I’m planning out my calendar. For example, if I have the option of a holiday party one night and breakfast with a friend the next morning, ideally I would choose only one of those events so that I don’t get too run down. No one will mind if you miss something in order to rest. Give yourself permission to take care of yourself, even if that means sitting out on something fun. You, more than anyone else, knows when your body needs rest. Today’s sniffles could be tomorrow’s full-blown flu without proper care.

Self-care is important—but don’t put it into a box. I spent many evenings forcing myself to take a bubble bath and drink tea and calling it ‘self-care’ because that was what everyone preached—completely disregarding that I disliked both! Finally, I wised up and realized that self-care is not synonymous with a bubble bath—self-care is anything that relaxes you. I began reading and painting in the evenings, and found it much more relaxing than sitting in a tub of water; the water is bound to get cold!

Only you know your body. How you relax is 100% your call, but if you’re like me, in an attempts to be everything to everyone, you’ll forget YOU. So, make sure to make time for whatever relaxes ‘you;’ write it on your calendar if you need to. If you’re not proactively taking care of yourself, you will crash and burn and regret it. I’ve been there and trust me, it’s not pretty!

The bottom line here is this: the holiday season is hectic, but make your health a priority. If you take care of yourself, you will be able to enjoy the holiday, and you’ll love the season and all it has to offer once again. Happy Holidays!


 

 

 

 

 

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Immune-Suppression

Virus in blood – Scanning Electron Microscopy stylised

Finally, the combination of methotrexate, prednisone and Plaquenil™ had been titrated for my Rheumatoid Arthritis and worked ‘like a charm.’ But, after about 8 consecutive months on this ‘cocktail,’ I developed pneumonia. Strange thing; I had also been on these same meds a year ago, when another type of pneumonia was diagnosed.

In both peumonias, the ‘culprit’ was determined to be methotrexate. Methotrexate causes pneumonia? Not directly but when the immune system is suppressed by methotrexate, the body is susceptible to other germs. Not only is this true of methotrexate, but of prednisone, Humira™, Rituxan™ and other medications used in the treatment of autoimmune diseases. This supression of the immune system: immune-suppression.

These meds really stop inflammation, but at an expense. That expense? They can leave your immune system unable to mount a defense against foreign invaders. That’s why you see this admonishment in advertisements for the above meds: “make sure that you tell your doctor about any infections you have and avoid going to large public places.” My solution: have an intimate dinner at home and invite a few friends-who don’t have colds! Continue reading

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3 Tips for Surviving a Stressful Job Despite Chronic Illness

Surviving a Stressful Job Despite Chronic Illness

Living with a chronic illness can be extremely difficult, when you work in a high stress field you may find your health quickly taking a nosedive. So, what do you do?

While some may be forced to quit their jobs due to their health, some people manage to find their own delicate balance that allows them to keep working in high stress environments. Here are three important tips that help me keep my balance.

You Are What You Eat

Diet cannot be stressed enough, but between having little to no time for meal prep and the unpredictability of breaks, eating healthy can be a challenge. While a complete diet overhaul would be best, in most cases it is not necessarily feasible. So the next best thing is finding and eliminating your food sensitivities.

There are numerous articles and lists on the internet telling you what foods you should avoid for every type of illness under the sun, so do some research for your particular illness. Then narrow down those lists by paying attention to what your body is telling you, find what your personal triggers are and avoid them.

A food diary can be invaluable when you are discovering your dietary sensitivities. Write down what you eat each day as well as how you are feeling, then look for patterns.

Do your joints ache the day after you eat a steak or burger? What about after pizza or spaghetti? Once you discover what you need to avoid, look for substitutions. Tomatoes make you ache? The internet has many tomato-free recipes, so you can have your pizza and eat it too.

Give Yourself Permission to Rest

Stress is the enemy, it can quickly exacerbate chronic illnesses and can be extremely detrimental to your health. We often deal with irate customers and tight deadlines, if we aren’t careful this constant stress can not only weigh us down but also follow us home.

That is why we all need an outlet, so take a moment to think of things that soothe you. It can be as simple as going for a walk on your lunch break or as creative as writing music. The idea is to release those emotions and stress so they can’t bottle up.

Your mental health is just as important as your physical in managing an illness. So give yourself permission to take the occasional evening or weekend off with no cell phone, leave work where it belongs and giving yourself some personal time.

Admit You Are Not a Super Hero

Yeah, that’s a tough one to swallow; you are amazing but you aren’t invincible. The 40+ hour work weeks of the past might no longer be within your capabilities.

That doesn’t necessarily mean you have to quit, but maybe it’s time to reevaluate. Work with your employer, maybe you can cut back your hours by working shorter days without hurting yourself.

You need to be honest about what your health will allow you to do at this point.

It’s better to cut down your hours for now than to work yourself so far into the ground that you are forced to quit. Listening to what your body is telling you is vital. So pay attention to how you feel each week and be open to adjustments.

Finding the Balance

When you are diagnosed with a chronic illness you quickly discover that long hours and bad nutrition are no longer an option. Incorporate some of these changes into your daily routine. Your body may seem like the enemy but it can also be your greatest ally.

Listen to what your body is telling you and act accordingly, small changes can result in big improvements. It’s a daily struggle, but once you find that balance you may just find that you can maintain your health and keep your high stress job too.

Candice Hardman is a writer who uses her experiences as a healthcare worker and patient to bridge the gap in health communications. She provides professional writing services that help improve patient understanding and outcomes through her website.

 

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LUPUS, in a nutshell

Every disease, everything that ails us, usually has a descriptor, a very easy way of describing it. and here is a lupus descriptor that is a very basic. Future articles will expound on this video:

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The Importance of Sleep if you Have Lupus

Sleep is essential for overall well-being and it plays a vital role in improving both physical & mental performance, and the quality of our lives.

Quality sleep boosts our mood, focus & attention span, memory, creativity, immune system, and curbs inflammation, depression and anxiety.

But for people suffering from chronic illnesses, the importance of sleep can’t be over-stated. A 2009 National Sleep Foundation poll found that people in poor health who do not get enough sleep, exercise & work less efficiently when compared to people in good health.

Lupus is a disease of remissions (symptoms improve and you feel better) and exacerbations (symptoms worsen and you feel ill). The most common symptoms of exacerbations (or flares) are fatigue, pain and inflammation and they are are commonly triggered by stress and chronic lack of sleep. Therefore, it is very important for a person suffering from lupus not to cut corners and to sleep the recommended 7-8 hours every day.

According to the Lupus Foundation of America, about 50 to 60 percent of lupus sufferers experience poor sleep and suffer from sleep related problems such as insomnia and sleep apnea. In another study, it was found that lupus patients have more sleep problems than people in normal health. This is a serious issue as lack of or poor sleep can further weaken the immune system and cause worsening of lupus symptoms such as inflammation, pain and cognitive dysfunction. Anxiety and depression were also common. Here are a few tips to improve sleep to prevent lupus flares.

Make sleep a priority

Make sleep a priority in your life. Often, in today’s world, sleep is too often seen as an unnecessary waste of time, resulting in our putting other activities taking priority over sleep. Too often and to frequently, we prioritize our work, family, social life and even regular household chores over sleep.

The National Sleep Foundation also found that only about 40 percent of Americans feel that sleep is as important as exercise or eating well to overall health and well-being. Once we know the importance of sleep in our lives; then we can go about the business of making it a priority.

Be Evaluated by a Sleep Expert

If you are facing long term sleep problems that have lasted a few weeks or you are experiencing excessive daytime sleepiness then it’s important that you obtain an evaluation from a sleep expert. This can also help to figure out if a medical condition unrelated to lupus such as sleep apnea or restless legs syndrome, is the real culprit behind your sleep problems.

Schedule your Sleep

Set a bedtime schedule and follow it strictly even on weekends. Go to bed at the same time every night and wake up around the same time every day. This way your body clock will also adjust to your sleep schedule, making you easier to fall asleep close to bedtime.

Napping

A short afternoon nap can really help to alleviate fatigue and refresh you. But be wary of taking long naps as they might leave you sluggish for the rest of the day and awake at night, and can disrupt your regular sleep schedule.

Exercise

Exercise, playing a sport or any physical activity for that matter improves the quality of your sleep. According to a survey conducted by the National Sleep Foundation, people who exercise regularly report sleeping better as compared to those who don’t exercise even if they get the same amount of sleep. So take out at least 20-30 minutes for physical activity every day. Also, it’s important to exercise 5-6 hours before bedtime.

Indulge In Sleep Inducing Foods

Diet really affects your sleep so it’s important to make healthy dinner choices that can promote a good night’s sleep. Avoid caffeine rich drinks such as coffee, tea and cola drinks. Also stay away from alcohol which is more of a sleep disrupter and results in poor quality fragmented sleep. Instead go for sleep inducing foods such as milk, turkey, lettuce, cherries and other options.

Meditate

Meditation is a great way to unwind after a hectic, stressful day to prepare for sleep. According to a recent study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, mindfulness meditation can significantly improve sleep quality and daytime impairment.

Steer Clear of Electronic Devices

Avoid watching movies, checking your emails or playing any video games at least 30 minutes before bedtime and shut off any electronic devices such as your laptop, tablet and phone if you want to get good sleep. The light from these screens send the wrong messages to your brain, keeping it alert and leaving you sleepless.

Unwind before bed

Include something relaxing to you, such as reading, a warm bath, inducing essential oils or any other relaxing activity right before bed to help you settle for sleep.

Set the Scene

Turn off the lights, wear comfortable clothing and control your room temperature. Research suggests that a temperature between 16 – 18 degree centigrade is perfect to help you fall asleep.

These tips should help you to take control of your sleep to avoid any lupus flares; but If sleep problems persist, it’s best to consult your rheumatologist.

About the Author
Eugene Gabriel is a passionate blogger. He has always been fascinated by sleep and how it relates to health and wellness. Read his post on Sleep and Room Temperature. You can follow him on twitter @eugenegabrielj.

Sources:

The Lupus Foundation of America magazine

The Journal of Clinical Rheumatology

Sleeping Too Hot? Try These Cool Ideas

 

 

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Lupus and the Importance of Sleep

Sleep is essential for overall well-being and it plays a vital role in improving both physical & mental performance, and the quality of our lives.

Quality sleep boosts our mood, focus & attention span, memory, creativity, immune system, and curbs inflammation, depression and anxiety.

But for people suffering from chronic illnesses like lupus, sleep is ever more critical. This can’t be under-stated. A 2009 National Sleep Foundation poll found that people in poor health who do not get enough sleep, exercise & work less efficiently when compared to people in good health.

Lupus is a disease of remissions (symptoms improve and you feel better) and exacerbations (symptoms worsen and you feel ill). The most common symptoms of exacerbations, or flares, are fatigue, pain and inflammation and they are are commonly triggered by stress and chronic lack of sleep. Therefore, it is very important for a person suffering from lupus not to cut corners and to sleep the recommended 7-8 hours every day.

According to the Lupus Foundation of America, about 50 to 60 percent of lupus sufferers either experience poor sleep or suffer from sleep related problems such as insomnia and sleep apnea. In another study, it was found that lupus patients have more sleep problems than people in normal health. This is a serious issue as lack of or poor sleep can further weaken the immune system and cause worsening of lupus symptoms such as inflammation, pain and cognitive dysfunction. Anxiety and depression were also common. Here are a few tips to improve sleep to prevent lupus flares.

Make sleep a priority

Make sleep a priority in your life. Often, in today’s world, sleep is too often seen as an unnecessary waste of time, resulting in our putting other activities taking priority over sleep. Too often and to frequently, we prioritize our work, family, social life and even regular household chores over sleep.

The National Sleep Foundation also found that only about 40 percent of Americans feel that sleep is as important as exercise or eating well to overall health and well-being. Once we know the importance of sleep in our lives; then we can go about the business of making it a priority.

Be Evaluated by a Sleep Expert

If you are facing long term sleep problems that have lasted a few weeks or you are experiencing excessive daytime sleepiness then it’s important that you obtain an evaluation from a sleep expert. This can also help to figure out if a medical condition unrelated to lupus such as sleep apnea or restless legs syndrome, is the real culprit behind your sleep problems.

Schedule your Sleep

Set a bedtime schedule and follow it strictly even on weekends. Go to bed at the same time every night and wake up around the same time every day. This way your body clock will also adjust to your sleep schedule, making you easier to fall asleep close to bedtime.

Napping

A short afternoon nap can really help to alleviate fatigue and refresh you. But be wary of taking long naps as they might leave you sluggish for the rest of the day and awake at night, and can disrupt your regular sleep schedule.

Exercise

Exercise, playing a sport or any physical activity for that matter improves the quality of your sleep. According to a survey conducted by the National Sleep Foundation, people who exercise regularly report sleeping better as compared to those who don’t exercise even if they get the same amount of sleep. So take out at least 20-30 minutes for physical activity every day. Also, it’s important to exercise 5-6 hours before bedtime.

Indulge In Sleep Inducing Foods

Diet really affects your sleep so it’s important to make healthy dinner choices that can promote a good night’s sleep. Avoid caffeine rich drinks such as coffee, tea and cola drinks. Also stay away from alcohol which is more of a sleep disrupter and results in poor quality fragmented sleep. Instead go for sleep inducing foods such as milk, turkey, lettuce, cherries and other options.

Meditate

Meditation is a great way to unwind yourself after a long hectic stressful day and prepare yourself for sleep. According to a recent study, published in JAMA Internal Medicine and conducted by researchers at the University of Southern California, mindfulness meditation can significantly improve sleep quality and daytime impairment.

Steer Clear of Electronic Devices

Avoid watching movies, checking your emails or playing any video games at least 30 minutes before bedtime and shut off any electronic devices such as your laptop, tablet and phone if you want to get good sleep. The light from these screens send the wrong messages to your brain, keeping it alert and leaving you sleepless.

Unwind before bed

You can include a daily relaxing act such as reading, a warm bath with sleep inducing essential oils or any other relaxing activity right before bed to help you settle for sleep.

Set the Scene

Turn off the lights, wear comfortable clothing and control your room temperature. Research suggests that a temperature between 16 – 18 degree centigrade is perfect to help you fall asleep.

These tips should help you to take control of your sleep to avoid any lupus flares; but If sleep problems persist, it’s best to consult your rheumatologist.

SOURCES:

Journal of Clinical Rheumatology

 

The Lupus Foundation of America

Sleeping Too Hot? Try These Cool Ideas

About the Author
Eugene Gabriel is a passionate blogger. He has always been fascinated by sleep and how it relates to health and wellness. Read his post on Sleep and Room Temperature. You can follow him on twitter @eugenegabrielj.

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Inflammation

For a long time, I’ve made posts long and lengthy. Then I realized, when I’m surfing the net, do I like to read a dictionary? an encyclopedia? No, short, sweet and to the point. So, starting today, it is short, sweet and to the point. Let’s start with  inflammation. In lupus, whenever something is inflamed, it’s usually related to-though not always; lupus.

Inflammation of most organ. or parts of organs is seen by us as redness and swelling, or hot, and painful. Redness can mean many things. not always lupus. Continue reading

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