How you manage your health is up to you.
For some people, a strict regimen of prescription medications and visits with a physical therapist are just what the doctor ordered. For others, the use of supplements, dietary adjustments and exercise work well when it comes to autoimmune disease management.
We all heal in our own way. The key is finding out what works best for you when managing a daily, chronic illness. Please work in tandem with your healthcare team to decide what’s appropriate for your body and diagnoses.
Autoimmune Disease Management: My Journey
Over the past nine years, I’ve tried a variety of approaches and medicines to manage my autoimmune-based rheumatoid arthritis. As you might guess by the name of this blog, yoga is a large part of my autoimmune disease management. The gentle physical stretching, positive mindful meditations and intentional breathing exercises all help to calm the anxiety and pain that accompanies chronic illness.
Yoga also assists with my digestive issues related to having celiac disease (another autoimmune condition) and mild gastroparesis. The controlled twists and bends help my meals move through my sluggish stomach muscles and promotes more regular bowel movements.
Today I want to share a list of alternative therapies that have helped me manage my autoimmune conditions over the years. I hope this is helpful for you.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links and advertisements. I earn a small commission if you shop through them, which helps fund this website so I can continue to bring you amazing content. Thank you! ~Angela
Low-impact Yoga Classes
I like to attend gentle yoga, yin yoga, chair yoga and therapeutic yoga classes. All of these types of yoga focus on slow, intentional movements combined with purposeful breathing and relaxing music.
These classes don’t twist you into a pretzel or leave you dripping with sweat. For me, they help reduce inflammation, muscle tension and mental busyness.
Reading or Listening to Meditations
Sometimes we need a little positive reinforcement to push forward on the tough days. Hearing someone tell you that you’re right where you’re supposed to be and that what you do is enough can be inspiring and ease the feeling of overwhelm that often accompanies the unpredictable flares with autoimmune diseases.
Fuel the Body With Nutrient-Dense Foods
When you don’t feel well, the last thing you want to do is cook from scratch. But, I promise — when you take the time to eat fresh foods, your body will have more energy.
For me personally, reducing processed/packaged/fast foods, limiting dairy, cutting down on sugar and drinking lots of water makes a huge difference in my days. When I eat well, I feel well. When I have the ability, I fill my plate with vegetarian proteins, colorful vegetables, whole grains and fruits.
Schedule Moments of Rest
As an autoimmune disease progresses, it can take more and more out of you. I’ve found it incredibly helpful to be realistic about my energy levels and what I can manage each day.
For each stretch of physical or mentally-draining tasks or activities (this includes fun social outings in addition to chores!), plan some downtime. When my autoimmune diseases are flaring, I need about a 1:1 ratio of active time to rest periods.
Find a Relaxing Hobby
Finally, give yourself a break from the must-dos and indulge in something that allows you to express yourself and brings you joy. This might include writing in a journal, working in the garden, painting along with Bob Ross, singing karaoke, creating a dance, taking pictures of nature or making pencil sketches.
I once attended a therapeutic soul painting workshop that allowed me to unwind and release many heavy feelings. I have zero painting skills, but the abstract expression turned out beautiful and made me feel proud of my accomplishment.
How do you manage your autoimmune disease beyond the medicine cabinet? I’m always looking for new ways to mitigate inflammation from rheumatoid arthritis, digestive issues from celiac disease and skin irritation from atopic dermatitis. Share your ideas in the comments below!
Until next time,