Coping Strategies

Author: Janey Willis. Scleroderma is highly variable. See Types of Scleroderma. Read Disclaimer.
Food and Drink
Pet Therapy
Support Resources
Working with Scleroderma


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

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.

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.

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


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.

Feeling sick but still want to exercise? Let the 'neck rule' be your guide. Be careful about exercising when you're ill. If you're sick, experts say, tone it down and if you're really dragging, just rest. Los Angeles Times, 02/27/2016.

Study: When those with a chronic illness exercise more, they worry less. Compared with similar individuals who did not exercise, the people who exercised had a 20% reduction in anxiety symptoms. Exercise helped people no matter what kind of health problem they had: cancer, depression, heart disease, fibromyalgia. Shari Roan, Los Angeles Times.

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: Huggable Healthcare Workers. The dog can be a distraction to the pain that a patient feels, and also to the rigor or the monotony of the therapy. It provides comfort for those who respond to animals. It also is a method to improve movement, to improve speech, and cognitive functioning. Discovery Health. (Also see Pain Management)

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)

This Woman's Heart Actually 'Broke' After Her Dog Died. Here's How It Happened. The pain after losing a beloved pet could be enough to break your heart, suggests a new report published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Time Healthland, 10/20/2017.

More Evidence That Owning a Dog Is Really Good for You. Dogs are more than just cuddly companions – research continues to show that pets bring real health benefits to their owners. Time Healthland, 07/24/2017.

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, 10/01/2015. (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, 04/20/2015. (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

Does happiness itself directly affect mortality? The prospective UK Million Women Study. In middle-aged women, poor health can cause unhappiness. After allowing for this association and adjusting for potential confounders, happiness and related measures of wellbeing do not appear to have any direct effect on mortality. The Lancet, 12/09/2015.

Is the search for happiness over? Experts discover the part of the brain that determines how cheerful we are. People who scored higher on contentment surveys had a bigger precuneus — a part of the brain normally associated with consciousness. Mail Online, 11/21/2015.

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.

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