Coping with Lyme disease can be a challenging undertaking. Not only are you learning how to manage symptoms and treatment regimens, but you’re also dealing with a diagnosis that is not considered to be a common condition. This can make living with Lyme disease a lonely and isolating experience. Luckily, there are some steps you can take to still live a productive and fulfilling life despite your diagnosis. Here are some ideas on how to take care of yourself as a Lyme disease patient.
1. Put self-care first
Perhaps the most important step you can take as a Lyme disease patient is to put yourself first. That means that it’s crucial for you to carve out time every single day to take part in self-care activities. This can mean anything from going on a short walk or taking a bath to drinking some hot tea and indulging in a Netflix binge. The whole idea is that you’re listening to your needs and determining what could make the day easier for you. As busy adults, it’s often difficult for people to practice self-care, but it’s absolutely critical if you’re suffering from a chronic illness like Lyme disease to have moments every day where you’re doing something solely for your own wellbeing.
2. Say no when you need to
One form of self-care can be as simple as saying no to activities that you don’t feel up to taking part in. People-pleasers often find it challenging to turn down invites or plans with friends and family, when actually, it can be harmful for Lyme disease patients to push themselves when what they really need is rest. Listen to your intuition – if you really don’t want to go to that party or if you simply don’t feel up to doing a favor for a friend, just say no! Others will learn to respect your boundaries since you’ll be showing people that taking care of yourself is a priority.
3. Practice mindfulness or meditation
Mindfulness or meditation exercises can be hugely beneficial to Lyme disease patients. Practicing mindfulness works to help you stay in the moment and be truly present. This can, in turn, help you focus less on your symptoms and your worries and feel more at peace in the moment. Research has shown that using mindfulness or meditation can lead to less stress, fewer symptoms of anxiety and depression, and a reduction in pain symptoms.
4. Take naps
If you have a lot of stuff on your to-do list, it can feel like taking a nap is out of the question. Actually, taking naps can be a great help to your overworked system. Lyme disease patients often suffer from severe exhaustion and fatigue, so napping during the day can result in you feeling more rested (and more able to sustain your energy throughout the day). Even napping for as little as 30 minutes can help you feel refreshed. Additionally, you should be getting a decent amount of sleep every night to help your body get the rest it needs. Many systems in the body work during the night to heal and rejuvenate, so your symptoms can feel worse if you’re not getting an adequate amount (typically at least eight hours) of sleep a night.
5. Cut out caffeine, alcohol, and smoking
Your body needs all the help it can get to fight through a Lyme disease diagnosis. That means you don’t want to be consuming anything that can harm your body. Try to limit the amount of caffeine you take in since it can be hard on your body, as well as alcohol (which can be okay in moderation). As for smoking, you should cut that habit immediately as it can cause even more serious health problems for you.
6. Do some physical activity
As hard as it can be to get up and be active in the middle of a Lyme flare-up, it’s actually in your best interest to do some physical activity regularly. It doesn’t have to be a lengthy workout. In fact, even a short walk or swim can get your blood pumping and your heart rate going. Physical activity can do tons of remarkable things for the body, including improving your sleep, boosting your immune system, and lifting your mood. So even though exercise can often feel daunting, try to take on easier activities, such as stretching, yoga, or light weight-lifting to help keep physically active.
7. Eat healthier
To fight Lyme disease, you’re going to need proper fuel. Instead of feeding your body junk food and processed products, consider revamping your diet to be healthier. A healthy diet can have many benefits that result in your body feeling better. Some experts recommend including adequate amounts of protein and fiber in every meal and cutting back on fat and carbohydrates. Consult with your doctor to see which foods he or she would recommend you include in your diet.
8. Get support
It’s easy to get overwhelmed with your symptoms and emotions when dealing with Lyme disease. That’s why it’s essential that you get support from friends and family during this time. Whether it’s a quick chat on the phone or reaching out when you’re in crisis, having a strong support network will help make the fight easier. And don’t be ashamed of seeking professional help if you feel you need an expert’s assistance. Therapy can be helpful as it provides you with someone to listen, as well as an outlet for coming up with coping strategies. Just don’t be ashamed to reach out if you need to.
9. Connect with other Lyme patients
If you feel like your loved ones aren’t quite understanding your struggle, reach out to someone who will. Connect with other Lyme disease patients so that you can help each other through difficult times. If you can’t find an in-person support group near you, head online for some virtual support groups that can connect you with fellow Lyme disease patients and help you feel less alone.
10. Figure out which treatments work best for you
Only you will be able to tell which treatment regimens work best for you. Feel free to experiment with different options (with the guidance of your physician), and get rid of whatever elements aren’t working for you. With your intuition, you’ll be able to develop a treatment and lifestyle plan that fits your needs perfectly.