15 Minutes of Self-Care With Psoriatic Arthritis
Psoriatic arthritis (PsA) can be a painful, debilitating disease. It is lifelong and there is no cure. Facing an uncertain future makes self-care one of the most important things you can do to ease the pain and live the fullest life possible. We all have a great many demands placed on us. As a mother of three young children, most days I can barely manage to have 15 minutes of uninterrupted time simply to shower, much less bonus time to truly care for my body, mind, and spirit. Women in particular seem to have a very difficult time squeezing in moments of self-care during overbooked, overrun days spent caring for others first.
Why is self-care so difficult?
I will be honest here, I am totally terrible at self-care. Seriously, I am the worst. I spend countless hours making sure everyone else has everything they need-tiny noses are wiped, dirty fingers are cleaned, and all booboos are thoroughly kissed. When all the items on the to-do list are checked off, there simply is nothing left to give myself. Maybe you are that way too. Maybe you feel overwhelmed, overworked, and exhausted too. Maybe like me, you are pulled in a thousand different directions and you are lucky to simply fall exhausted into bed 10 minutes after you put your children to bed. It takes some hard convincing of the value of devoting even 15 minutes a day to self-care.
Where do I start when there are a million things to do?
Believe it or not, there are some easy things that you can do, daily, to include yourself on the almighty “to-do” list to promote self-care. The first I would suggest is to find the sweet spot. You know what I’m talking about, that period of your day when you feel the most energetic and the most focused. Within that time, identify a 15 minute window in which you will do something for yourself, something to metaphorically feed your mind, body, or soul. Studies suggest that even taking as little as 15 minutes can have a huge impact on your body and even your mental outlook. So, what can you do in as little as 15 minutes to promote self-care?
What you can accomplish in just 15 minutes
- Take a walk– Get outside and get a little fresh air. Take a stroll and take in nature and all it’s beauty. Watch the leaves change, feel the breeze on your face. I guarantee you will be pleasantly surprised at what a difference a simple 15 minute stroll can make.
- Read a book– No, this does not just mean read. It means read a book. Put social media away, turn off the internet, and set your phone aside. Mental escape into a book offers it’s own soothing qualities for your mind. Escape to another world and fall in love with amazing characters or phenomenal stories. Feed your mind, even for 15 minutes, and you won’t be sorry.
- Start a hobby– For those of us with PsA, many of the first joints affected and some of the most painful are those in our hands. Picking up a hobby that uses our hands is a great way to increase the strength and flexibility of our hands. Knitting, crocheting, and even coloring are inexpensive and fairly simple hobbies to start. Limiting your activity to about 15 minutes at a time can keep your hands from getting overly achy for their efforts. In addition, if you find you enjoy knitting or crocheting, there are hundreds of wonderful organizations that accept donations of items to comfort others. Blankets, hats, socks, and gloves are in great need by many people. Making something for others in need can give a hobby a purpose. That is a win for all involved.
- Journal– Writing can free the soul and give order to your thoughts. PsA is as tied to our emotional well-being as much as our physical well-being. While we work tirelessly to control our pain and limit damage to joints, we must also work to foster our emotional well-being. Jotting down our thoughts and feelings gives them a voice free of judgement or guilt. Forget grammar. Forget spelling or punctuation. Just let your thoughts flow freely onto the paper and you may just feel like the weight of the world has been lifted from your shoulders.
- Try something new– I absolutely love the thrill of doing something new, something different, that I’ve never done before. There is something about new experiences that gets my blood going and takes my mind off my pain, if only for a little while. I recently did one of those crazy escape rooms with some friends. Sure, I was a bit scared that I would be too tired or in too much pain to really participate but once I was there I was thrilled to be doing something new and different. And yes, we made it out with a whole minute to spare!
Believe me, I know it is hard – you are preaching to the choir. There are a million and one reasons to avoid self-care when you have PsA and an endless to-do list. But trust me, take the time to carve out 15 minutes in your day to focus on yourself, the health of your mind, body, and spirit, and you won’t regret it. What will you do with your 15 minutes?