Managing your autoimmune disorder can look like prioritizing sleep, managing stress, or going on the AIP diet but relationships are also an important piece to your overall health. Living with chronic disease isn’t easy, and relationship management can be an added hardship in addition to not feeling or functioning well. An autoimmune diagnosis impacts your health on many levels, and your relationships have the power to support your healing or sabotage it.
Internal stressors such as poor self-image, feeling grief over what life was like before your diagnosis, anxiety, and possibly rage and fear over your body’s reaction to symptoms may make you feel out of control and less able to enjoy, or even benefit, from relationships of any kind. However, it is possible to manage relationships to suit you and your diagnosis while benefiting the other person, too. Read on to find out how you can manage relationships well while living with an autoimmune disease.
Managing Your Autoimmune Disease
Autoimmune diseases have the ability to affect more than one system at a time, causing varying degrees of random and uncomfortable symptoms stemming from excess inflammation. Some inflammatory diseases may cause neurological inflammation and include symptoms such as panic attacks, fear, compulsiveness, forgetfulness, and cognitive impairment. Inflammatory bowel disease may cause severe gastrointestinal upset, making it hard to function and difficult to even leave the house. Rheumatic diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis can cause pain and joint swelling, reducing the use of affected joints and making it difficult to be productive and comfortable.
These mental and physical impairments stemming from immune-mediated diseases can truly take a toll on maintaining or forming relationships, and may even be risk factors that lead to relationship destruction over time. It is critical to manage your symptoms as best you can to not only reduce inflammation and feel good, but also to maintain positive relationships that support you and your healing journey. (Source, Source, Source)
There are no cures for autoimmune disorders, but symptom management has been found to be helpful for many sufferers. Controlling environmental factors such as diet and lifestyle, intertwined with immunosuppressive drug treatment options seem to be effective for most, even though disease manifestations in patients vary.
Going back and forth between multiple appointments, figuring out how medication, diet, movement, sleep, and stress fit into your treatment options and plan can mean everything else, like relationships, get put on the back burner. Managing internal stressors as well as environmental factors that affect how you feel and function will impact how you connect with others. Being supported and surrounded with healthy relationships can be a great addition to your health care plan and help you to live better overall. Read on to find out how you can manage relationships effectively while living with chronic illness. (Source, Source)
Surrounding yourself with healthy relationships affects the way you feel and supports a robust immune system, but will it cure your autoimmune diagnosis? No, unfortunately not — but having the support of people you trust will make living with an autoimmune disease more bearable, while impacting your overall well-being in a big way.
Research has shown that stress may play a large role in the onset of autoimmune disorders, but we know that positive connection with others can be a great stress buster. Having a solid support system of healthy relationships can offer you the strength you need to be or do anything you desire, no matter your limitations. Living with an autoimmune disease has its ups and downs, but having healthy relationships, whether you’re just getting by or thriving, has a huge impact on your overall health and resilience now and over time. We know that relationships are important to our health, but the question is, how can we manage our relationships living with autoimmune disorders? (Source, Source)
Building Healthy Relationships
Relationships can be messy and at times can demand more than you’re willing to give, but they can also be very fulfilling. Research shows that building healthy connections and social bonds reduces stress and risk of heart disease and reduces inflammation, lowering the risk for inflammatory diseases as well as depression and early death. Very simply stated, healthy relationships make us healthy!
From an early age we learn how to form and build relationships from the interactions we have with our families, caretakers, and later on, our peers. The relationship behavior modeled for you in childhood will play a role in how you develop and maintain relationships on your own as you age. Positive and healthy relationships will be what you give and expect to get in return if that is what you were shown as a child. (Source)
Did you know that having a glass-half-full outlook on life can actually increase your well-being? In relationships ranging from acquaintances to significant others, we tend to be drawn toward others who are much like ourselves. This could mean sharing similar hobbies and interests, enjoying the same music, reading the same books, as well as having similar outlooks on life in general. This is why it is so important to keep and manage relationships in your life that lift you up — because your health truly depends on it. Are you the kind of person that has a glass-half-full perspective? Begin protecting your health by choosing to flock to others that support you in such a way that you feel grounded, strong, and peaceful while developing and strengthening your own sunny outlook! (Source, Source)