Research Roundup
October 31, 2018
The Doctor-Patient Relationship
November 9, 2018

Foundational Tips for Stress Management With Autoimmune

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Stress can manifest itself in negative ways. It can make dealing with autoimmune disease so much harder. The problem is, while stress can exasperate autoimmune disease, the reverse is also true: autoimmune disease can exasperate stress. These tips are the foundational ones to remember – they are not rocket science and they are the no-brainers everyone tells you to do. But they are so much easier-said-than-done that it bears repeating them here… even if it helps one person get clarify on how to reduce stress and live one day better.

Allow time for you

You may be used to caring for others, but when you have an autoimmune disease, it’s especially important that you make time for self-care. Allow yourself to take some quiet moments and time for hobbies. Give yourself some peace of mind with a walk, by reading a book, listening to music, or just closing your eyes for a little while. Spend time enjoying some healthy, fun hobbies that put a smile on your face.

Get to know yourself better

Pay attention to your body. You may notice that you start to tense up, feel sweaty or clammy, or get headaches when you’re stressed. These are warning signs. When stress comes on, remind yourself that it’s time to take a break and do some stress relieving exercises or switch up the agenda a bit.

Set up comfortable boundaries

Sometimes you need to set up boundaries at work and at home. You need to be honest with your boss, coworkers, and loved ones about what you can and can’t accomplish. If you over-commit yourself, it can place a heavy burden on you and trigger flares.

Enhance your support system

You need people you can go to that understand you have an autoimmune disease, people who won’t judge you when you’re honest with them about how you feel. You want people you can count on, so call on your friends and family, or find a support group for people dealing with a similar condition.

Give yourself a lot of grace

Don’t judge yourself if you can’t get everything on your agenda accomplished. Be okay with not being perfect… no one is. Put fewer expectations on yourself, and instead spend time making reasonable goals that you can accomplish without pushing yourself beyond your limits.

Try gentle, stress relieving exercises

There are a lot of ways you can relieve stress: deep breathing, meditation, listening to the right music. Find stress relieving exercises that work well for you and make time to ease your mind.

Accept this new autoimmune life

Easily the hardest one. Many people seem like they’re coping, but they actually haven’y fully accepted that they have an autoimmune disease. Once you get to the point of acceptance, you can live your life the way you need to. You won’t put too many expectations on yourself and you’ll learn that this is just the way life is now. Once you accept your condition, you can live your fullest life, finding ways to feel better and maximize your days.

Take steps today to ease the heavy burden you’ve been carrying with you. While stress won’t cease to exist, you can keep it from running your life or making your autoimmune disease worse. Let yourself off the hook, make time for rest, learn stress relaxation exercises, and accept where you are and what you can do. Be honest with who you are and set healthy boundaries as needed.


About the Author
Katie Cleary is founder of  She lives with her autoimmune conditions and her family in Austin, Texas.

This blog post was originally published by, written by Katie Cleary, and first published on Nov 4, 2018.

This post contains the opinions of the author. AARDA is not a medical practice and does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. It is your responsibility to seek diagnosis, treatment, and advice from qualified providers based on your condition and particular circumstances. AARDA does not endorse nor recommend any products, practices, treatment methods, tests, physicians, service providers, procedures, clinical trials, opinions or information available on this website. Your use of the website is subject to our Privacy Policy.


  1. These stress relief tips all make sense. Readers might wish to investigate the deeper work of retraining the brain towards stress resiliency. Mindfulness-based therapeutic approaches are well understood in psychology and practiced by some psychotherapists. At StressPal, we are pioneering an affordable online stress resiliency tool for health providers and their patients, and invite anyone interested to let us know if you want to be part of our beta testing.

  2. Kathy McKibben says:

    Living w RA is like living w your worst enemy. You feel tired, misunderstood , exhausted and people believe u to be lazy. Those people I have zero respect for. I do my best to have a productive day but it’s beyond hard or fun. I have a lot of friends and they help me cope. I have a husband who loves me and knows I have lotsa bad days but I also have good days too .

  3. margie ridgen says:

    I just wanna share my experience in medical marijuana and it helps me deal with my health conditions. I’ve been suffering from chronic pain for how many years, but then when I learned that medical marijuana can help and cure sickness such mine like this article about a marijuana strain CBD and THC are also new to me and I don’t even smoke. If this is true I can’t find any solid conclusive evidence that speaks to its efficacy.

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