5 Ways to Deal with an Autoimmune Flare-up

Autoimmune flare-ups can be incredibly frustrating, disappointing, and depressing – to say the least. Especially when your overall symptoms and abilities we’re looking on the up and up only the day (or hour) before.

I get it, I truly do. But to get through these tough spells, you NEED to have the right mindset. That’s why I am giving you my top five tips for getting through a flare-up with mental clarity and strength.

1. Stay Calm and Rest

I know I just said that flare-ups are depressing, but playing the stress-inducing blame game is not going to help. 

It’s so easy to question every decision in your life at this point. 

Was it the meal I ate at that restaurant?
Did my kids bring home a virus? 
Have I got mold in the house? 

This mind game can keep going and it’s a long spiral into oblivion. 

The most important thing to do at this time is rest. Tone down your social engagements, reduce your responsibilities, and retreat to a safe calming place. 

It should go without saying that adding any extra stress at this time is a no-no. I’ve written previously about good and bad inflammation, which directly relates to stress. A little stress when you’re health is at its peak is a good thing, think about exercise. But if you add stress, be it mental or physical, on top of your already weakened body, it’s possible you’re going to prolong your recovery. 

If you’ve got an appointment with your boss to talk about a pay rise, try and reschedule it. If your child has a parent meeting at school, ask if your spouse or a family member could go.

If you’ve got a quiet place in your house to relax (not your bedroom if you can help it), then utilize this space during your flare-ups. Make sure it’s relaxing and a place where you could complete simple tasks to keep your mind busy.

This could be your garden, sewing room, yoga space, or wherever else you can fully relax.

To reduce the noise of your overly active brain circling around all the jobs you’re not getting done, it can be a good idea to try a bit of meditation. Having a good, consistent practice over time can help you keep those downward spiraling thoughts in check, and in the long run, lead to great mental health.

2. Plan Good Nutritious Meals

It may be hard to cook during this time, but food is where you should be putting most of your mental energy and effort. 

Food can be true medicine, and eating healthy is a must at all times. During a flare, you can really dive deep into meal planning by ensuring each dish (and snack!) is nutritious and anti-inflammatory based. 

For a good guide on what to eat, check out Dr. Weil’s anti-inflammatory diet. Obviously, make sure you observe any special requirements in your diet.

If you are at the point where you can’t even cook. It’s time to call in the favors. Ask anyone that’s willing to put in that extra effort to help you out in your time of need. And always make sure you repay the favor tenfold to show how much you appreciate it.

3. Read a book or Watch a Show

Now’s the time to read that book that you keep putting off because you’re too busy! You need to relax and keep activity to a minimum so be purposeful with your time and read something you enjoy. 

If you’re not an avid reader, maybe now is the time to start. If you don’t feel up for a book, it could be a good time to catch up on some TV shows. Don’t go overboard though, it’s not an excuse to veg out on the sofa. If you’re brain still works, use it!

4. Research Your Health!

This is an important one. You’re in this state for a reason, now is the perfect time to find out why. Start reading books and reliable articles (it’s hard to know who is reliable, but you’ll get there), listen to podcasts. 

Use all the sources you can find. Talk to friends and family because you never really know where the key information will come from. Sometimes it just takes a different frame of mind, not exactly new information. 

Try to be subjective, at this time you are most likely a little emotional and depressed about the situation. Approach the subject with an open mind, and analyze each topic with a fresh outlook.

Just because someone has lots of qualification it doesn’t mean that their answer is right. We are all unique individuals with unique bodies, and you are the person with the most knowledge about your body. Use this knowledge and learn how to articulate your issues, it’ll help others help you. 

5. Plan Next Week, or Next Month

I find that goal setting is a great way to get our minds off of our flare-ups. Usually, our life flashes by without us having time to stop, think, or even smell the roses.

Well, guess what? You have time now. Let’s think. A great practice to have for a better life is to have goals. These goals can be grand goals, and they can be small goals. By setting out some grand goals first, you can plan out some baby steps that will help you reach these goals.

On the other hand, things often go much smoother if you have a plan for the week. Try and schedule out the obligations you have and don’t forget to add in both free time and family time!
Creating social settings can be important for your overall health. 

Linking back to the first point, remember to pay it back/pay it forward. If someone helped you out in your time in need, find a way to help them. And don’t stop there, search for others to help just out of the goodness of your heart. It’ll be beneficial in the long run for your mental health and the whole community. 


These are just 5 of the things that I try and keep in mind when I’m in the midst of another flare-up. I’m sure there are 100 other things that could help too. I’ll look forward to your comments to see what helps you!


Nick helps aspiring runners learn how to take a healthful approach to their training and races so they don’t crash and burn before they achieve their goals.

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