Valerie Smith, APRN
5 Self-Care Tasks for Individuals Living with a Rheumatic Disease
Updated: Feb 28, 2022
Living with a rheumatic disease can be challenging but showing yourself a little extra care can help make life a lot easier. Here are 5 self-care tasks we encourage you to practice daily:
Get Plenty of Quality Sleep
Poor sleep leads to negative health consequences, including heightened rheumatic disease symptoms. Lack of sleep for those living with a rheumatic disease is often caused by severe pain, anxiety, stress and uncontrolled symptoms. If you are having trouble sleeping, let us know during your next visit. We can make sure you are taking the right medications and are on track to managing your disease symptoms.
Here are some tips for increasing your quality of sleep:
Reduce your caffeine intake later in the day
Limit the time spent on your phone, tablet or computer before bed to reduce your exposure to blue ray light.
If you find yourself using electronic devices near bedtime, wear glasses that help reduce your exposure to blue ray light. Click here to see recommendations from Healthline.
Get up and move during the day so you’re tired at night
Talk to your healthcare team about ways you can get better sleep
Brush & Floss Your Teeth Daily
Did you know that gum disease can cause rheumatic diseases to progress faster? It’s true! Gum disease can lead to bone and cartilage damage and no one wants that. That's why it’s so important to take care of your teeth by brushing and flossing daily. We also recommend scheduling routine dental checkups and eating foods that are good for you. Eating an anti-inflammatory diet (also called a Mediterranean diet) is a great way to ensure your body and teeth are getting the nutrition they need.
If brushing your teeth or flossing causes pain, let us know during your next appointment. We can offer helpful suggestions for making these daily tasks easier.
Eat a Healthy & Balanced Diet
We understand that many individuals living with a rheumatic disease lose their appetite or simply do not have the energy to cook when symptoms are heightened. But good nutrition can make a big difference in your overall health and disease management. We encourage you to eat a balanced and nutritious diet. The Anti-Inflammatory Diet (also called a Mediterranean Diet) is a great way to eat the foods your body needs to function at its best. It’s full of fruits, vegetables, lean meats and whole grains. You can learn more about an Anti-Inflammatory Diet here.
We also recommend avoiding or reducing your intake of alcohol, tobacco, processed foods or sweets. Although tempting, these will cause your symptoms to be worse.
Get Up & Move Each Day
It’s important to get up and get moving daily. Moving your joints and muscles has many benefits and helps reduce symptoms of your rheumatic disease. You may notice less inflammation around your joints, less pain overall, joints are easier to move, and you may even drop a pound or two.
Exercise is very beneficial for your overall health and disease management. In fact, there are several activities that are safe for people with a rheumatic disease to do. If you’re unsure which activities are the best fit for you, we can discuss this topic during our next appointment.
There are so many different types of exercise activities you can choose from. As you think about the activity that most interests you, we recommend using the five S.M.A.R.T. tips provided by the CDC for choosing the best exercise routine for your body. You can learn more about how to safely exercise here. If it’s been a while since you have routinely exercised, you may consider working with a physical therapist or certified fitness trainer to establish an exercise program that meets your health needs.
Keep Your Stress Level Low
Although we cannot control all stress, it’s important to keep the stress that we can control to a minimum. Stress can heighten rheumatic disease symptoms which can increase pain and make it harder to manage your disease. We recommend determining the cause of your stress and finding healthy ways to reduce that stress in your life so you overall feel calmer and more content.
Here are a few ways you can help manage your stress:
Take a walk
Spend time doing an activity you enjoy
We hope these 5 self-care tasks are helpful as you manage your rheumatic disease. The next time you visit Paducah Rheumatology, let your healthcare provider know how you are doing with these 5 self-care tasks and if you find any of the tasks challenging, we can discuss how to make them fit your lifestyle and overall needs.
We’re here to help support you and your health!