For people with Lyme disease, the dream of a full, happy life may feel unobtainable. One minute they’re typing ‘What is Lyme disease?’ into a search engine, and the next they’ve been diagnosed with an illness that includes symptoms like headaches, stiff joints, fatigue and nerve pain. The challenge of living well can be especially daunting for chronic Lyme patients, who face a whole host of unpleasant and difficult-to-treat issues that can greatly impact their quality of life.
So, how to live with Lyme disease? Aside from seeking medical treatment, there are a number of lifestyle changes that have been shown to help with symptom management. As part of a larger Lyme disease treatment plan, these simple steps can go a long way in helping you not just survive, but thrive. Here are 10 tips on adapting your lifestyle for living well with Lyme disease.
Eat a variety of healthy foods
Incorporating an array of fresh, whole foods into your diet is an excellent way to provide your body with the energy it needs to function properly. Although it may be tempting to choose fast and convenient foods when you’re too exhausted to cook, the effort required to make ‘real’ food for yourself will pay off when you realise how much better it makes you feel. You can even take advantage of meal delivery services that bring fresh, pre-prepared ingredients straight to your door.
Get enough rest
While many Lyme patients struggle with chronic fatigue, others experience insomnia and other sleep problems. Because rest allows your body to heal and repair itself, it needs to be a priority for Lyme patients. Practice good sleep hygiene – try to go to bed and get up around the same time every day, make your bedroom a comfortable and soothing environment, and avoid screen time right before bed.
Like cooking, the idea of exercise can be daunting when you’re dealing with symptoms of Lyme disease like fatigue and soreness. But every little bit of movement helps your health! If you can’t make it to the gym, simply enjoy a walk around the block or take the stairs instead of the elevator.
Keep your stress levels in check
Living with Lyme disease or any other chronic illness can add a huge amount of stress to the everyday worries and anxieties you’re already feeling. When left unchecked, this stress can not only worsen Lyme disease but also lead to other serious health problems. It’s important to find an outlet for your stress, whether it’s spending time outdoors, talking with a trusted friend, or watching your favourite TV show.
Maintain a healthy gut biome
As scientists continue to discover links between the gut and nearly every system in the body, it becomes increasingly clear that a balanced gut biome is critical for overall health. For people with chronic illnesses like Lyme disease, caring for the gut is crucial. Supplementing with probiotics and providing your beneficial gut bacteria with prebiotic fibre are good ways to support your gut.
Follow a specific nutrition plan
In addition to providing your body with energy, certain foods can work to relieve symptoms of Lyme disease. Make sure your meals include plenty of anti-inflammatory foods (like salmon and olive oil), antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables, and hearty wholegrains.
Find the right combination of supplements
When used correctly – preferably under the guidance of an experienced practitioner – supplements can be powerful tools for easing and treating symptoms of Lyme disease. This is especially true if you’re concerned you may not be getting adequate nutrition from your diet.
Coping with chronic illness doesn’t just take a toll on your body; it can also put a huge strain on your mental health. Many people with Lyme disease find mindfulness meditation helps them handle stress and keep their illness in perspective. If you’re interested in learning more about meditation but don’t know where to start, there are many resources available online.
Reach out to a friend
Did you know loneliness may be as bad for your health as smoking? A condition like Lyme disease can be isolating, particularly if you’re having a hard time getting out of bed. Try to make time to connect with others. Whether you find comfort in talking with fellow Lyme patients or cherishing quiet conversation over coffee with an old friend, being with others is a surefire way to help you feel less alone.
Many studies show that spending time in nature can be beneficial for the body as well as the mind. Even spending your lunch break sitting on a park bench could be enough to leave you feeling happier and healthier afterwards.
Living with Lyme disease isn’t easy, but it doesn’t have to define you. Adapting your lifestyle with these 10 tips is a relatively simple way to take control of your health.