Autoimmune disease causes your body to attack and damage its own tissues. This decreases the body’s ability to fight off infections and illnesses.
Those with autoimmune disease battle fatigue, achy muscles, swelling, redness, low grade fever, trouble concentrating, numbness in hands and feet, hair loss and skin rashes. This is all in addition to the specific symptoms that correspond with each type of disease.
If you suffer from rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, inflammatory bowel disease, multiple sclerosis, Type 1 diabetes, Guillain-Barre Syndrome, CIDP, psoriasis, Grave’s, Hashimoto’s, myasthenia gravis or vasculitis, you should know that your body requires additional care.
Since I suffer from Crohn’s disease, here is a list of self care tips specifically geared towards my fellow autoimmune warriors.
Hydrate – Drink lots of water, try new teas and do some wine tasting if your medicines allow.
Move around – Some days you won’t feel like doing anything, and by all means, give yourself permission to do just that. Your body is screaming for rest. But on your better days do some stretching, go for a walk or dance to your favorite music.
Take a pause – If you are feeling irritable or overwhelmed, try taking some deep breaths. Breath in to the count of four, hold your breath for the count of 4 and then release slowly and fully. Meditation is a great way to bring some calmness to your mind and body as well.
Create – Be creative in whatever form resonates with you. It could be making crafts, painting, journaling, devising a new organization system, researching travel plans, trying a new recipe, or playing music.
Show Kindness – Perform random acts of kindness for others and remember to extend that kindness to yourself.
Get Support – Find an autoimmune support group or one specific to your disease.
Treat yourself – Buy anything that makes your life easier. I can only speak for things specific to Crohn’s disease, such as wet wipes, softer toilet tissue, and a heated blanket. But if there is something that makes you feel even the tiniest bit better, go for it.
Laugh often – Overdose on funny movies, tv shows, or youtube clips. Indulge that weird sense of humor frequently.
Be around nature – Grow a garden of herbs, vegetables, or flowers. Stroll through local parks or arboretums.
Celebrate – Of course you will celebrate big things, but celebrate even the smallest of things too. If you moved from the bed to the living room while suffering a flare. Kudos to you!
Eat real food – Find whatever nutrient rich foods your body tolerates and stock up on those. If you are sick, smoothies are a great way to get those into your body. Take advantage of grocery delivery and pick up or try a meal prep service if finances allow. Again, whatever makes your life easier, take advantage of it.
Digestion – Slow down. Take deep breaths and relax before you eat. Chew your food until it is almost liquid. Take time to savor each bite and don’t overeat. Take a short walk afterwards or drink some ginger tea.
Non-negotiable 15 minutes just for you – This is your time and it needs to be scheduled into your day, ideally at the same time everyday. During your 15 minutes you get to do whatever you want without interruption. Read a blog, sit in silence, listen to music, paint your nails, journal, or color.
Unplug from negativity – Get rid of social media, people and other things that don’t make you feel good. Replace with things and people who uplift and inspire instead. Also,replace that negative talk in your head and start saying nice things to yourself.
Say no and ask for help – These are usually the hardest ones to do, but definitely when you are having a flare try to avoid stress as much as possible. Turn down anything that you know you aren’t able to do and enjoy. And ask for help when you need it. Most people enjoy being useful and won’t mind.
Soak – Sitting in a hot bath with epsom salts does wonders for a body that is aching and painful.
Remember, taking care of yourself is not selfish. Because you are battling pain and discomfort on a daily basis any self care becomes very important.