If you have lupus, there are many things you can do to help yourself feel better. These things involve taking care of your body, your mind, and your spirit. By changing some of the things in your life that you have control over, you can help yourself feel as healthy as possible. These include getting enough rest, exercising, eating well, avoiding the sun, and getting regular health care.

Rest

While lupus symptoms vary from person to person, many people with lupus experience fatigue. You may feel very tired at times, and sleeping or resting may not always make the tiredness go away. Needing to rest is not being lazy -it's your body telling you to slow down, and it's important that you listen to your body. To help prevent fatigue:

  • Get enough sleep. Eight hours a night might not be enough. Get as much sleep as you need, and talk with your doctor if you are having trouble sleeping
  • Take naps or rest when you need to. Try to plan these times in your day.
  • Make a simple plan each week of what you will do, including work, time at home, and outside activities. Be realistic when you make this plan, and be sure to include time to get enough rest and sleep.
  • Every day, look at your plan and think about whether you feel up to doing what is on it. If you don't have the energy to do something that day, plan to do it another time.

It's important to get emotional rest too. A fact sheet called "The Ups and Downs" presents information and suggestions about coping with stress.

Other important things you should do to stay well are

  • Avoid being in the direct sun for a long time if you have sun sensitivity.
  • Wear sunscreen (with a protection of at least SPF 15) and clothes that protect your skin (like hats and long sleeves).
  • Eat a well-balanced diet, with foods that are low in fat and high in fiber.
  • Listen to your body. If you feel you are getting an infection, see your doctor.
  • Talk with your doctor about birth control and getting pregnant. Your doctor can help you choose a safe form of birth control, and talk about when it's best to become pregnant.
  • Go to your dentist regularly, and get an eye exam each year.

Get gynecological (Pap tests) and breast exams regularly.

"I'm gonna do all the living I can."

Exercise

"Exercise?! When my joints hurt and I'm tired?"

It might seem hard to think about, but exercising can help your body feel better.

It can help your mind and spirit too. Regular aerobic exercise, such as swimming and vigorous walking, may:

  • Increase your muscle strength
  • Help keep your joints from getting stiff
  • Help control your weight
  • Help reduce stress
  • Improve cardiovascular health (your heart and blood vessels)

Getting Started

  • Talk with your doctor about exercising and what would be right for you.
  • Try to find someone to exercise with - it can be a lot more fun!
  • Start slowly. If you keep track of what you do, you can see your improvement and feel good about it!
  • If you're not feeling well one day, make changes in your exercise - but try to go back to your regular exercise the next day.
  • Remember, you can exercise in the winter too.

Understanding and Avoiding Flares

Learning your personal warning signs of a lupus flare can help you and your doctor make any needed changes to your overall treatment.

Warning signs include:

  • Increased fatigue
  • Pain
  • Rash
  • Fever
  • Upset stomach
  • Headache or dizziness
  • Other symptoms you haven't had before

To minimize a flare:

  • Learn to recognize your individual early warning signals of a flare.
  • Communicate with your doctor.
  • Develop a system of support and try to limit stress.
  • Exercise, eat well, avoid sunlight, and get enough rest.

This information is provided by the Environmental Health within the Department of Public Health.