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Living with Lupus Corner with Mauricia Ambrose


Lupus Canada is pleased to present the Let’s Talk Lupus Blog – Living with Lupus Corner with Mauricia Ambrose. 

October 10th is World Mental Health Day and incidentally October 9th is Thanksgiving. What have you done recently to safeguard your mental health? As we prepare for Thanksgiving, and mother nature prepares for another season of renewal, let’s be grateful for how far we’ve come and think about how we can recharge and renew our lives. There are so many options for all of us that it might be hard to choose. I would start with a few simple ones.

Find a hobby. I love gardening. I started about ten years ago with one indoor plant because I read that they clean the air. It was a palm. Now I have at least forty plants. It’s gotten so bad that every time we pass by a garden centre and I stop, my son says “Step away from the plants Mommy”. I’ve stopped buying plants just to add to my collection. Now, I propagate plants. Anyone interested in a Golden Pothos look me up. I have lots of those.  I’ve also tried to be more creative, combining plants that can live together, and planting them in a glass jar with decorative stones. I made my first bonsai this summer and intend to make many more. I have a few rare plants as well, the Hindu Rope plant, a Sleeping Pothos and… wait this isn’t an article about plants. I digress.

If plants aren’t your thing, and you like more adventure, then pick something that will bring that rush of adrenalin you are looking for. Alice Boyes Ph.D. wrote an article for Psychology Today where she lists ten tips for choosing the right hobby.

The first is cost. Some hobbies may cost a lot, others, like gardening, can cost less or the cost might be neutral. I would suggest that you first decide on your budget. Do you want to spend $500 a year or $5,000 a year on your hobby? Some hobbies can be transformed into a lucrative side hustle. Check out this site with a list of side hustles you might want to investigate 100+ Side Hustle Ideas to Make $500+ in Your Spare Time (2023) ( Be careful that it doesn’t turn into a second job. Remember this is supposed to be enjoyable.

The second thing to consider is time. How much time do you have for this new hobby. If you are stretched to the limit, already consider outsourcing some of your responsibilities so you can make time for a hobby. Some hobbies require minimum time, like half an hour a week watering plants, others require more effort. For example, if you choose to go into real estate, then you may have to dedicate a lot more time and resources seeing tenants, arranging repairs and buying or selling properties. Select a hobby that matches the time you have to spend on it.

The next question is when. When do you have time for your hobby? Can you do this all year round or is it just a specific time of year? If you don’t like the cold, don’t pick skiing. Do you have time on the weekends, or after work?

The other questions you need to ask yourself are:

  1. Do you want social contact?
  2. Who do you want to interact with?
  3. What are your strengths?
  4. How do you want your hobby to challenge you?
  5. Are you looking for a hobby you can share with your partner?
  6. Do you struggle to finish things?
  7. Are you interested in the pursuit of a hobby or the hobby itself? This is one you might not even realize you are doing. I love shopping. Am I buying those yoga pants and blocks because I like the idea, but I hate yoga? For those of you who have done this before, consider a yard sale. Get rid of the clutter and start a fresh. Make a commitment this time to finish what you started. Ok, don’t sell the yoga pants, they are way too comfy.

Psychology Today didn’t have this tip and it’s for lupus patients.

  1. Find a hobby that matches your energy level and mobility. You don’t want to be exhausted when you are done. It should bring you joy and a sense of accomplishment.

There are of course other things you can do to safeguard your mental health. Take long walks or go to the gym. Go hiking. Get out for some fresh air. With the change in seasons, the colours will be magnificent, so get out there and enjoy it.

Get more sleep. Evidence consistently shows that getting a good night’s sleep leads to a better mood, better productivity and overall satisfaction with life. The World Economic Forum published an article that says, not getting enough sleep can make it more difficult to manage our emotions and by extension affect our mental health. Better sleep reduces anxiety, depression and stress.

If all else fails, see a therapist. For those of you living in Toronto, Mental Health TO is a great free resource to get excellent counseling services. You can access a counseling session through the What’s Up Walk-In Clinic. Sessions are on the same day (they are generally 45-60 minutes long), with no fee, no health card, and no appointment. On the day you are ready to have a session, you can contact MHTO at 1-866-585-6486. There is also Strides Toronto, for brief services. (Brief services will be 3 to 8 sessions with a consistent counselor). You will need to complete a quick screener and then the information can be sent to Strides Toronto Walk-In.

Are you ready to take on the world? Not quite. That’s ok.

Remember your struggles shouldn’t define you; they should motivate you.

Blog Parenting one day at a time

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Wow, it’s over. Where did those two months go? Summer has always been an adventure for my son and me, whether it’s running out of gas after our first visit to a cottage or going to a Blue Jays game and never actually watching the game, because he can’t sit still. It’s always been a time of exploring new things and having fun. Even with lupus, summer is filled with possibilities.

Since the pandemic things have changed and our adventures have been few and far between, but it has never dampened my spirits.  I made our home a place of adventure. Birthday parties were in the backyard set up like an obstacle course, playing laser tag with a few friends.  Outdoor adventures were complete with masks and way more than the necessary number of bottles of hand sanitizer. I had to take precautions of course, and I am the first to admit I went into overdrive. The good news is, it was worth it, and we came out on the other end unscathed. The days we spent at home – him doing online school and me working from home – brought us closer as well.

Now another summer has passed, and I don’t know where the time went. He is taller than me now and loves every minute of it. They grow up so fast. I don’t want these childhood years to end but I know they must. In past summers I would make plans months in advance.  There were amusement parks and beaches to visit. Picnics, food festivals or music festivals to attend. This year was very different. He made his own plans and went out with his friends. It’s now the last few weeks of summer and the time has slipped away. He is getting ready to go into grade 8 and I will go back to the office.

Getting back into a routine is always difficult after the summer holidays. In previous years there would have been the shopping spree to get clothes. There was the nightmare of getting up that first morning and trying to get everyone – including myself – out the door on time. This year there’s still the shopping spree – who doesn’t like shopping. But I’ve learned a thing or two about transitioning from the lazy days at the beach or the hustle and bustle of sightseeing, to getting up at 6 am and out the door on time. I take a few simple precautions so coming back home isn’t a chore.

To avoid stress and ensure I have a good time, I travel with people I like. Makes sense, right. How many times have you traveled with people who are annoying – that uncle, aunt or cousin who won’t shut up? I can picture you smiling and nodding your head. I have had so many vacations with a complainer or someone who always wants things done their way. Even worse, that friend who thinks they are always right.  Life is too short to spend it with people who don’t bring you joy. I travel with people whose company I truly enjoy. My vacations are spent with the people I love and who love me. These are the people I can laugh and be myself with.

Now I’m surrounded by the right people, but my energy level doesn’t match theirs. What do I do? I take naps. I don’t know if it’s old age, but I’ve recently discovered taking short naps can be rejuvenating. That seems counterintuitive but most of my vacations have been hectic short trips that leave me exhausted. The best way that I’ve found, to ensure I have the energy I need to keep going is to take a short break. It doesn’t have to be a long snooze. The Mayo Clinic recommends ten to twenty minutes, anything more and you will wake up groggy. They recommend taking a nap in the early evening if you can, around 3pm, so it doesn’t affect your nighttime sleep. Find a comfy spot. I hate waking up to back pain after sleeping badly so I find a spot that is quiet and comfortable. Once you are up, give yourself time to wake up properly before you resume any activities.

If the naps aren’t enough, I simply say no. It’s ok to say no to an activity you think may be too much for you or if you are feeling fatigued. Too many times I have just kept going because I didn’t want to disappoint my friends when I should have simply stayed in the hotel room reading a book or by the pool relaxing. It’s a vacation. The root of the word vacation comes from the Latin word vactio which means freedom. You should have the freedom to do what you want to. I have gone off the “slower” beaten path on my own more than once, while my companions did their own thing. You do you.

Sometimes no matter what you do, vacations are stressful, for lupus patients more so. If I overdo it; and let’s face it, we all do; I tend to have lupus flares during or immediately after a vacation. They include joint pain, extreme fatigue and because of my kidneys swollen ankles. To give my body time to heal, I take an extra day or two off after my vacation so I can rest before I return to work. This isn’t always possible of course so I usually end my vacation on Friday, so I have the weekend to recover, and – this is very important – I don’t make any plans for that weekend.

Well, I am rested and ready to take on the world. Maybe not the entire world, but my little piece of it.

Remember your struggles shouldn’t define you; they should motivate you.

Blog Parenting one day at a time

Facebook Parenting one day at a time | Facebook

LinkedIn Mauricia Ambrose | LinkedIn



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