5 Things You Should Do, But Don’t Want to, When You Have Psoriatic Arthritis
I grudgingly open my eyes and like every morning for the past year, I begin to assess what kind of body I am going to have today. Will I ever get my old body back? Will I ever feel like myself again? My feet ache, my left hand is still swollen from yesterday, and a new throbbing pain has sprung up in my lower back overnight. What else hurts today? What will go away after a few hours and what will I be stuck with managing today? What is my body capable of accomplishing today? What do I absolutely HAVE to do to survive my day? When you live with psoriatic arthritis (PsA) even the simplest tasks can feel overwhelming.
Everyone, even those without PsA, has things in life that we know we should do, but for whatever reason, we do not do them. We should exercise, but we don’t. We should eat healthy, but we don’t. We should save our money, but we don’t. Sometimes I don’t do what I should because it takes a lot of time. Sometimes it takes a great deal of money. And let’s face it, sometimes I’m just feeling lazy.
Living with PsA is no different. There are things that we should be doing, even if it is difficult and we do not really want to do it. With some effort, living with PsA may be a little easier to manage during a flare.
1. Get a move on
I know. I’ve been there. When every single joint and every single muscle is screaming all you really want to do is curl up in a ball, cry, and pray it passes. When you are feeling at your worst, I suggest you move, I’m not suggesting you run a marathon. But stand, stretch a little, and hobble around every couple hours. If you are anything like me, it becomes very easy for me to just lay there and focus on how much everything aches but if I force myself to stand, take a few steps, move my body just a little I know that it is good for my body.
Studies suggest that simple, regular movements can help combat fatigue and release endorphins that can help you feel better. Simple relaxation exercises can calm your body and your spirit. For example, when I have a flare, my hands are usually one of the first, and worst joint affected. So, what do I do? I pick up my yarn and knitting needles and get to work. I work in small spurts and leave the remote on the other side of the room. That way, when I have to let Netflix know that yes, I’m still watching, I have to get up a move a little too. When I’m lucky enough to not have a flare going on, I make sure to try and get routine movements in everyday. I do simple things like dance with my kids, run the sweeper, or take a short walk.
2. Lay off the junk food
I love junk food. No joke- fast food, potato chips, and chocolate treats-you name it and I love it. Believe me when I say I don’t make this suggestion lightly. I love my Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups as much as the next lady and limiting the foods we love is no fun. But it can be very easy to get out of control and your body will pay the price. For me, one run through the drive thru can quickly become a habit and before I know it, I’m scarfing a Big Mac and large fry, feel like garbage, and wonder why. Cutting out (or even back) on processed and high sugar foods will clear some of the toxins out of your body and help it run more efficiently. Moderation is the key, despite living in an all or nothing world.
3. Mend fences
Recent studies show a link between emotional health and frequency of flares. When we feel stressed by our relationships with others, our bodies respond by going into overdrive, and before you know it, you find yourself the mayor of Flare City. Take stock of your emotional health and see if that is contributing to your latest flare. Talk with loved ones, offer forgiveness, or make changes in your life that can lighten the burden of simply living. Holding grudges and being angry with loved ones suck up a great deal of your much needed energy. Mend fences and move on, your body will thank you.
Do a quick search online and you will find these wonderful things called compression gloves and compression socks. At first, I was a little leery of wearing these out in public (yes, I am that vain). I was afraid people would stare. After all, they aren’t really the height of fashion. But I found a great deal of relief, especially in my hands from wearing these. Makes me wish sometimes that they make larger ones for my back, knees, and pretty much every other joint in my body.
5. Get a little sunshine and fresh air
Breathing in a little fresh air and feeling the sun on your face can do wonders to lift your spirit and remind you that life is going on all around you. Get out, if only for a little bit and maybe only to get to your doctor appointment that day, be sure to just get out. Shutting our doors and wallowing in our pain is such an easy thing to do. Some days I want nothing more than to just crawl in a hole and stay there wallowing in my own pain and self pity. Doing this may temporarily feel good, but it can be the start of a dark and lonely path that trust me when I say, you don’t want to be on.
I’ll be the first to admit that doing what is good and right is not always fun or easy. Start small and you will find that in the long run, it will be totally worth it in the end.
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