A flare. Okay, but seriously, it’s not your fault. If you suffer from chronic illness, flares are inevitable. You knew it was coming but were trying to pretend like it wasn’t. However it happened, you’re here now so let’s talk about what you can do now that you’re in a flare.
Flares look different for different people, and it completely depends on what your chronic illness is. But, generally speaking across the board fatigue and general feelings of being unwell are common. No matter if you suffer from POTS, Crohn's, gastroparesis, MCAS, or other forms of dysautonomia, we can help you find ways to manage your flare.
This is a big one. Maybe the most important one, and it may seem like the most obvious too. You feel like crap - rest is all you can do. If you’re able to get out of bed, these activities can help you get some rest:
- Watching tv. I mean, That 90’s Show (the reboot of That 70’s Show) isn’t going to watch itself.
- Reading. If you’re able to focus, reading is a great way to escape life for a little bit. We recommend any book by Kristen Hannah!
- Isolation. Grab a cozy weighted blanket and ask friends/family to give you a few hours to nap or just rest undisturbed. Be sure to turn your phone on silent mode.
- Social media break. It’s addicting, social media. But it can also affect your overall mood. Take a break from scrolling. Nothing there is worth it when you’re in a flare and need rest. Be intentional. Turn your phone off if you struggle to not look at it.
- Crafts. If this is your thing, grab the colored pencils, crayons, or whatever material you prefer and get to coloring. I like to scrapbook by making cards for friends and family. Right now I’m making some cute valentines cards that will go to my family.
THINGS TO TRY
Sometimes you need to find a tool to help you through a flare. Here’s some ideas.
- Medications. A no brainer. If you have medications that you can or should be taking, take it. Make sure you’re taking it on time and consistently.
- Compression socks. Great for helping manage and maintain blood flow. Really important for people with different forms of dysautonomia. Wear them, especially when you’re in a flare.
- Epsom salt bath. Baths are a hot topic! Should you take one, not take one? Will it make your flare worse? Better? Everyone’s answer will be different. If you’re someone who can manage taking a bath go for it. Load it up with an epsom salt aromatherapy and relax your body in the warmth. Get out feeling like a new person.
- Showers. If you’re not able to take a bath, a hot shower with a good shower chair can give you the same effect. If you haven’t tried one of those shower steamers, they can give a similar experience as the aromatherapy you would get from epsom salts.
- Heating pads. Great for general aches and pains.
- Hydration. Sometimes a flare can be caused because you’re not getting enough water in your diet. Or, if you’re someone who needs electrolyte replacement because of your chronic illness, then an oral rehydration salt (ORS) would be best for you. NormaLyte, an ORS, is a game changer for many with chronic illnesses. We recommend getting a free sample of NormaLyte and seeing the difference it can make for you during flares.
OTHER GREAT TIPSHere's some other great tips can help you manage the chronic illness flare you're experiencing.
- A friend who understands. Do you have a friend who also has a chronic illness affecting their daily living? Even if it’s not the exact same as your own, talking about it can be therapeutic. Or, if you don’t have someone you know who truly understands, don’t undervalue online communities. A community of people through a Facebook group like this POTS Support Group can be a wonderful supportive resource for you.
- Get a snack. Looking for something salty? Check our list here.
- Journaling. Keeping a journal of your symptoms, food you ate, and what kind of things you did day to day may help you identify and prevent another flare.
- Pets. Seriously, I see this listed over and over again. Pets are part of our family and just getting snuggles in with them can make life seem so much better.
Overall, it’s about giving your body time to recoup. Be patient and give yourself some grace. Flares are not always your fault. Read that last sentence again, then say it out loud. Flares are not my fault.