Coping Strategies

Author: Janey Willis. Scleroderma is highly variable. See Types of Scleroderma. Read Disclaimer.
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Coping with scleroderma and any chronic illness can be a challenge. There are many things you can do to make you feel better mentally and physically. One of the worse things you can do is to isolate yourself from the people and things that you love. You should always try to stay active, happy and positive. This page will help provide some ideas to help you cope with scleroderma. ISN

Spoons by Lisa Volz, ISN ArtistBut You Don't Look Sick: The Spoon Theory. I asked her to count her spoons. She asked why, and I explained that when you are healthy you expect to have a never-ending supply of "spoons". But when you have to now plan your day, you need to know exactly how many "spoons" you are starting with. Healthline.

Challenges and strategies for coping with scleroderma: implications for a scleroderma–specific self–management program. Although the challenges experienced by patients with scleroderma are unique, findings from this study might help better understand patients' perspectives regarding coping and disease management for other chronic diseases as well. PubMed, Disabil Rehabil, 2018 May 9:1-10.

How to Boost Resilience in Midlife. While resilience is an essential skill for healthy childhood development, science shows that adults also can take steps to boost resilience in middle age. New York Times, 07/25/2017.

Explaining Chronic Illness: An Alternative to the Spoon Theory. The unpredictability of fatigue and energy levels is one of the main symptoms people with chronic illnesses face so rationing their energy becomes something that most people need to do to get through each day. Scleroderma News, 06/20/2017.

Doctor/Patient Communication Tips. Quackwatch


Coronavirus and exercise: what the UK government's new rules mean for you. Exercise is good for us, not only for our physical health – from maintaining a healthy weight to reducing our risk of some diseases – but also for our mental wellbeing. NetDoctor, 05/12/2020.

Effect of a tailored home-based exercise program in patients with Systemic Sclerosis (SSc): a randomized controlled trial. This study indicates that in SSc patients a minimally supervised, home-based exercise program improves physical performance, quality of life and disability in comparison to usual care. PubMed, Scand J Med Sci Sports, 04/29/2020.

Older and Stuck at Home? Expert Advice on Fitness. Past science suggests that any health impacts from prolonged home confinement are likely to be greatest among older people. TechnoCodex, 04/22/2020.

Long-term exercise by older adults tied to lower risk of falls. Older adults who have exercised regularly for at least a year may be less likely to experience falls or related injuries than their less active peers, a research review suggests. Reuters Health, 01/21/2019.

Sleep and exercise compete for people's time. On weekday mornings, two healthy activities – exercise and sleep – compete with each other for time, researchers say. Reuters Health, 11/20/2018. (Also see Sleep Disorders)

How Exercise Can Help You Recall Words. Researchers recently looked into the relationship between aerobic fitness and word recall. New York Times, 05/15/2018.

Physical activity (PA) in patients with systemic sclerosis (SSc). In SSc patients, the total minutes of PA per week are significantly lower compared to the general population. PubMed, Rheumatol Int, 11/18/2017.

Food and Drink

Diet and Systemic Scleroderma. ISN

Food Guide for Autoimmune Disease and Other Chronic Illnesses. ISN

Foods that Fight Stress. Tea, dark chocolate, fatty fish, greens, oatmeal, citrus, and milk are foods that can help reduce stress. HuffPost. (Also see Stress and Food Guide)

Pet Therapy

Pet Therapy. Studies have shown that physical contact with a pet can lower high blood pressure, and improve survival rates for heart attack victims. There is also evidence that petting an animal can cause endorphins to be released. Endorphins are chemicals in the body that suppress the pain response. HealthLine. (Also see Pain Management)

14 diseases you can get from your pets. Although the numerous health benefits of pets far outweigh the risks, it canít hurt to know what diseases to watch out for. Mother Nature Network. (Also see Pain Management)

What infections can animals pass to people? Animals can pass many infections to people, although this route of infection is rare. The medical name for these infections is zoonoses. NHS Choices. (Also see Pain Management)

Social and Personal Relationships

Social support: Tap this tool to reduce stress. Having close friends and family on whom you can count has far-reaching benefits for your health. Here's how to build and maintain these essential relationships. Mayo Clinic. (Also see Causes of Scleroderma: Stress)

Social Interaction Is Critical for Mental and Physical Health. Studies have shown that people who have satisfying relationships with family, friends and their community are happier, have fewer health problems, and live longer. New York Times, 06/12/2017.

Staying Happy and Positive

Fibromyalgia: Ten Strategies for Maintaining a Positive Attitude Deborah A. Barrett, Ph.D.

Support for Scleroderma

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Working with Scleroderma

Disability Resources. Some people with systemic scleroderma have mild enough symptoms that they are able to continue working for years, or even decades. However, others may find that they are unable to continue working full time. ISN.

Disability Overview
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