Flares suck. We all know that. No matter which autoimmune disease you live with, flares are a common occurrence. Especially when you’re initially diagnosed, these flares really mess with your head (and your body, of course). So what steps can you take to mitigate the impact of flares on your life?
- Accept you’re in a flare or one is coming that you can’t stop. Don’t fight them. It will only make things worse. What might have been a minor, one-day flare could turn into a multi-day, painful, stiff experience you never want to repeat.
- Alert friends and family that you’re having a flare and set their expectations about what you will and won’t be able to do until further notice. Cancel appointments, outings, and anything else you will not/should not take part in while you’re flaring. Do not allow them to guilt you into coming back into the world too soon. If you do, you might rebound, and all the hard work you’ve done will go for not.
- Find your happy place and get to it. If you need supplies – painkillers, DVDs, creams – whatever helps, gather them. A friend of mine keeps a “flare basket” that she regularly refills (when she’s feeling well) with all the things she needs in case of a flare. That way, she doesn’t have to go hunting while she’s not feeling well, she’s putting a little less stress on her family, and she knows she’ll have everything she needs. I don’t have a basket, but I do have Netflix and Hulu in my bedroom, a couple of creams etc on my nightstand, and pills a couple of feet away in the bathroom.
- Settle in for however long it takes to get better. It may take a few hours, a few days, or a week. Don’t rush the process. Sleep. Binge watch Reign if you like historical fantasy. If you’re into gore, binge watch Game of Thrones. If you’re not nauseous, go for the 12 seasons of Top Chef on Hulu. Read. Sleep some more. Take detox baths. Color. Do whatever it takes.
- Use whatever means necessary to make the pain go away. Creams, essential oils, Himalayan salt lamps, magnesium flakes in a hot bath, lots of fluids. There are tons of different ways to treat the seemingly millions of symptoms of autoimmune diseases, so figure out what works for you and go with it.
The main point is, yes, we all have responsibilities, some of which we have to battle through no matter the circumstances. But you’d be surprised at how few of those you actually have no choice to attend. Especially once your family and friends begin to understand your limitations, you’ll be under less pressure to push yourself.
How do you take care of flares? Any tips? Leave them in the comments!