Glimmers and Triggers on Your Lupus Journey
Last updated: October 2023
We all know living with lupus can be challenging. When you have to deal with unpredictable flares, symptoms and complications, I know from experience, can really cause some triggering issues. Sometimes, it can even feel like everything is a trigger for your lupus, whether it's stress, sunlight, infection, medication or even your own emotions.
But what if you could shift your perspective and focus on the glimmers instead of the triggers?
I have found ways to change my mindset and work on shifting my focus. First, let's talk about the differences between triggers and glimmers.
What are triggers?
Triggers can be anything that could cause or worsen lupus symptoms. They can vary from person to person. Here are some common ones that I have dealt with on my lupus journey.
- Stress: Stress can increase inflammation and affect our immune system, making us more prone to flares and infections.
- Sunlight: The sun is my nemesis for sure and a major trigger. Ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun can damage skin cells and trigger an immune response. Prolonged exposure to sunlight has led to some of my rashes, joint pain and fatigue.
- Infection: Infections can also activate our immune system and cause inflammation. Infections can worsen lupus symptoms or even trigger a flare.
- Medication: I’ve found that some medications can have side effects that can also mimic or aggravate my lupus symptoms. Side effects such as nausea, headache, rash or hair loss are just a few.
- Emotions: There are so many emotions that can come with lupus. Negative emotions such as anger, sadness, anxiety or depression has affected me often. Ultimately those negative emotions have affected my mood, energy and coping skills. It has made it harder to manage lupus.
What are glimmers?
Glimmers are anything that can make you feel better or happier, even for a moment. They too will vary from person to person. I have found some that really help me daily.
- Joy: First, joy that positive emotion that boosts my mood, energy and helps my immune system. I find joy in simple things like listening to music, watching a funny show, playing with my pet or spending time with loved ones.
- Gratitude: Second, gratitude essentially is a feeling of appreciation for what you have or what others have done for you. I practice gratitude by writing down three things I am thankful for every day. Expressing my thanks really helps me to tap into a powerful glimmer.
- Hope: Third is hope and that is a feeling of optimism and confidence that things will get better. That I can achieve my goals beyond lupus. I take time to cultivate hope by setting realistic and achievable goals for myself. It is a goal of mine to make sure I celebrate all of my progress and achievements. Sometimes seeking support or reading inspirational stories of people who overcame lupus issues helps as well.
- Resilience: Finally, resilience is one of my favorite glimmers. Resilience is the ability to bounce back from adversity and cope with challenges. I have built strong resilience by learning from my mistakes and flares. I’ve also had to accept what I couldn’t change. Changing my mindset, I began focusing on what I could control. Most importantly I began to develop positive coping skills such as meditation, yoga and breathing exercises. I have even sought professional help when needed.
Identify glimmers and triggers
For me, seeing the glimmers instead of falling to the negative trigger is not easy, but I found it was possible. Here are some ways that I was able to do it.
The first step was to recognize what triggers and glimmers I personally had. I keep journals and use an app to track my symptoms, mood and activities. This way I can look for patterns or correlations. Doing this helped me minimize my exposure to triggers to maximize my experience of my glimmers.
Challenge negative thoughts
Sometimes, my triggers cause me to have negative thoughts about myself, lupus and the future. These thoughts can make me feel worse and affect my behavior at times. To counter them, I have used therapy to learn skills to replace them with more balanced and realistic thoughts.
Focus on the positive
Another way I worked to see the glimmers instead of falling to the negative trigger is to focus on the positive aspects of my situation. For example, if I had a flare, I try and think about how it is temporary and how I have overcome previous flares before. I also think about the positive things that happened during my day, such as receiving a compliment, having a good meal or enjoying a hobby.
It was hard to realize that I didn’t have to go through this alone. Consequently, I had to seek support from others who understood what I was going through. Reaching out to family members, friends, support groups and online communities was pivotal. I was able to share my feelings and experiences with them and even ask for advice or help. Addition I found offering support to others who are struggling with lupus, made me feel good about myself and strengthen and make new relationships.
Quality of life
In conclusion, we know that lupus is a chronic condition that can have many triggers that worsen our symptoms or cause flares. However, it can also have many glimmers that can make you feel better or happier.
By identifying triggers and glimmers, challenging your negative thoughts, focusing on the positive aspects and seeking support from others, you can see the glimmers instead of falling to the negative trigger. This helps to improve our quality of life and well-being and live in the most positive and effective way beyond lupus.
Do you know your triggers and glimmers?
How are you most likely to respond when someone offers you unsolicited advice about your lupus?