To make sure that the holidays stay festive, most people plan ahead. For individuals with lupus, all the shopping, decorating, cooking, gift-wrapping and going to parties can be very exhausting. Don’t be afraid to say “I’m just too tired” and ask for help.
According to social worker Caroline Norris, one way to cope with stress during the holiday season is to follow the four A’s: avoid, alter, accept and adapt.
Avoid: Avoid the people and things that upset you or cause you too much stress. Make the right choice this holiday season, if you don’t get along with someone then don’t invite their unwanted attention at holiday gatherings. Also, learn to say the word “no.”
Alter: If you find that the normal holiday season routine is too fatiguing, alter your expectations. If loved ones aren’t respecting your needs, respectfully ask them to alter their behavior.
Accept: Acceptance is an important part of managing stress. During the holiday season, you may have to accept that you won’t be able to participate in all the activities you would like.
Adapt: One way of avoiding stress is to adapt. Living with lupus often means having to adapt one’s lifestyle or plans; this is especially true during the holiday season.
How would you even know if you are one of the 1.5 million Americans that has lupus? The common signs of lupus are:
• joint pain and stiffness, with or without swelling;
• muscle aches, pains or weakness;
• fever with no known cause;
• feeling exhausted;
• butterfly-shaped rash across the nose and cheeks, or other body rashes;
• unusual weight loss or weight gain;
• trouble thinking, memory problems or confusion;
• kidney problems with no known cause;
• chest pain when taking a deep breath;
• sun or light sensitivity;
• hair loss; or
• purple or pale fingers or toes from cold or stress.
Less common symptoms include:
• blood clots;
• sores in the mouth or nose (usually painless);
• severe headache;
• dizzy spells;
• “seeing things” or not able to judge reality;
• feelings of sadness;
• strokes; or
• dry or irritated eyes.
Reducing stress can only enhance the good things in your life. If you have any questions about lupus, call the Lupus Foundation of Pennsylvania at 800-800-5776 or visit www.lupuspa.org.
Melissa A. Ostroff-Gundrum is the Centre County representative of the Lupus Foundation of Pennsylvania