3 Tips for Surviving a Flare
Flare-ups are a regular and unfortunate part of living with an autoimmune disease. They LOVE to come right when we are busiest, invading our days with pain and dizziness where there was no room for such miseries. I’m experiencing one currently, as often happens when I am due for my next chemotherapy infusion (Remicade every four weeks, totally worth it!).Flare-ups are a great occasion to practice self-care. Click To Tweet Actually, flare-ups pretty much force us into caring for ourselves, and if we don’t we usually end up feeling worse. When we choose self-care from the beginning, we can reduce the amount of emotional distress that so often comes along with our flares. Here are three of my go-to tips for surviving a flare:
1. Don’t push through the pain. This is easier said than done, I know. When responsibilities are adding up, resting feels like the last thing we need. But stress can quite honestly make your disease worse. Take a deep breath and then set some of your responsibilities aside. While you won’t always be able to take a full sick day, you can try to lessen your load for the day, take a short nap in your car, or take regular stretch-breaks to keep your joints from getting too stiff.
2. Be kind to yourself. Flare-ups are inflammation-terrorists, wrecking havoc on our joints, organs, and even emotions. No matter how many times we’ve endured them, flare-ups are gonna affect us. If you’re at all like me, you will sometimes be surprised at just how low a flare can make you feel. Remind yourself that you are human and that your body is enduring something incredibly intense. You are likely not going to feel like your normal, productive, perky self during a flare. So arm yourself with grace and kindness: you don’t have to be perfect, and this will pass.
3. Make your kindness practical. What’s comforting to you during a flare? For me it’s taking a hot bath and watching lots of episodes of TV shows (at the moment I’m re-watching Gilmore Girls season 6, for about the 5th time…). Do something comforting if you are able. And better yet, let a friend do something comforting for you. It might feel strange, but letting a friend bring you dinner or a cup of tea could be just the encouragement you need today. We were never meant to carry the burden of sickness alone. If letting a friend in feels too draining today, then after your flare is over think about telling a friend what kind of support you might need in future flares.
And, if it’s any consolation, know that this is advice that I have to follow too. Now, back to my Gilmore Girls…
This post was originally published on Anchor for the Soul. Follow Katie Jo’s journey with Ankylosing Spondylitis and Adrenal Insufficiency here.
I am a lover of truth and beauty and a resolute seeker of joy. Wife, counseling masters student, writer, passionate reader (truthfully, a nerd), and friend. Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS) has been a constant houseguest in my life since early 2009--one I'd love to kick out but for the life of me can't! Having a severe autoimmune disease has impacted every part of my life--in many ways that I hate. But suffering has also carved out space in my soul to relish the beauty in life, extend peace to others, and--ultimately--to more fully rest in the love of the God who lives. Carving can be painful but the space and contours it creates are beautiful. Join in my wrestling and resting in God in my experience of physical suffering at anchorforthesoul.net.