A young woman wrapped in several cozy scarves walking outside in the fall.

3 Ways to Celebrate Fall, Despite Lupus

With its pumpkin patches, apple cider, and promise of comfortable weather, autumn is many people's favorite time of the year. The hint of crisp, cool air offers a reprieve from the summer heat, especially for those of us who struggle with sensitivity to sunlight. However, living with lupus can make celebrating the season tricky.

Not all of us have the physical energy for a walk in the park to see the leaves changing. If joint pain is an issue for you, you might not be able to take your children, nieces, or nephews to a pumpkin patch or to a corn maze. And those of us with restricted diets can't always enjoy pumpkin spice lattes or pecan pie and other sugary fall treats.

But with some substitutions and a little creativity, you can find ways to enjoy autumn and to celebrate the changing of the seasons. Here's how:

Decorate your house

You might not have the energy for a walk in nature to see the leaves changing. Or you might, like me, live in a part of the country in which the view outside your window looks pretty much the same year-round. However, you can still conjure some of that fall ambience by bringing a bit of autumn inside your home.

This can be as simple or as elaborate as you'd like. You could pick up some fall leaf garlands from the Dollar Store to drape over your coffee table or to use as a kitchen table centerpiece. Buy a few pumpkins at the grocery store and arrange them on your threshold or by your fireplace. I love to decorate for fall, but I live on a limited budget.

Last year, I challenged myself to spend as little as possible while still decorating my home in a way that made me excited for the season. I shopped exclusively at the Dollar Store and Goodwill, where I found everything from spooky Halloween lanterns to burnt orange vases bursting with autumn foliage to orange and yellow votive candle holders.

Even though I didn’t spend a lot of energy or money, I get a lot of compliments on my fall decor.

Modify some fall recipes

Many lupus patients have dietary restrictions. I personally have to limit my carb and sugar intake. But I still love pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin pastries, and especially pumpkin pies.

Fortunately, many of these recipes can be modified to fit most dietary issues. When baking a pie, I replace the crust with breadcrumbs mixed with a bit of olive oil rather than a buttery homemade crust. I also make my own lattes at home, replacing sugar with a little maple syrup or honey.

If you’re not able to cook, most coffee shops can accommodate any food sensitivities you might have by replacing milk with almond or coconut milk or by limiting the pumps of liquid sweetener.

Enjoy the great outdoors, despite lupus

Most mental health experts agree that spending time in nature has therapeutic value. But no one said you have to move your body to experience this benefit. Simply sitting outside and taking in the scent of autumn leaves and the feeling of cool air can be just as relaxing as walking.

Put a lawn chair on your doorstep, porch, or apartment balcony and chill for a while with a spooky Halloween-themed book.

If you’re too sick to go outside, open your window and enjoy the scent and feel of autumn. There’s no right or wrong way to connect with nature.

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