Boundaries That Make My Life With Psoriatic Arthritis Less Painful
When I hear the word boundaries, psoriatic arthritis is not what comes to mind. Instead, I think of my mental health. Yet, setting boundaries is one of my most effective tools.
Boundaries? Where do I start?
I will be honest. I would have been annoyed had my rheumatologist suggested setting boundaries at the time of my diagnosis. However, that advice would have given me something to think about whenever I became frustrated with the lack of improvement from treatment. If anything, I believe I may have begun setting boundaries a lot sooner than I did.
With that said, here are three areas where setting boundaries has made my life with psoriatic arthritis less painful...
Setting physical boundaries has always been a struggle for me, even when I know that specific movements or activities will trigger a flare! My brain often confuses exiting a flare for being healed. I know that my body has not healed. But my brain’s natural response to pain ending is that of healing.
My brain has yet to learn the difference between psoriatic arthritis and injury pain. And that is why this boundary is the one I have to put the most focus on. Examples of my physical boundaries include but are not limited to:
- How long I can stand?
- What is the amount of steps my body can take in one day or at one time?
- Following a sleep schedule
- How often I can bend or lift? This puts a limit on the weight of what I lift or carry.
My physical boundaries fluctuate. The significance of the fluctuation depends on how my body is responding to treatment. Other chronic illnesses and injuries add another layer of complexity.
I almost fell off the chair laughing the first time a doctor told me I needed to practice stress reduction to decrease pain. Life is stressful! Anyone who says they live completely stress-free is a liar. There will always be some form of stress in our lives. With that said, stress is like cholesterol. There are good and bad forms.
The trickiest part was recognizing which forms of stress I was responsible for. Admitting that I was adding stress to my life was not an easy pill to swallow. This entailed acknowledging things I was or was not doing, how I allowed others to treat me, and how I reacted to everyday stress.
Prayer and practicing mindfulness have helped me tremendously. They allow me the time I need to sort out my thoughts and emotions before making a decision. The time spent focusing on my breathing instead of reacting makes it easier to see if what I was stressing about was even worthy of worrying about.
And last but not least, it highlighted destructive behaviors that I had allowed others to get away with. The less time I spent stressing over things out of my control, the more time I had to deal with real issues.
Time is of the essence
One thing I think we can all agree on is that there never seems to be enough time! People insinuate that we are lucky to get “days off.” Well, as you know, a flare day is not a day off. Flare days take a lot of courage and strength to get through.
We cannot plan a flare day, its severity, or its duration. But we can and do spend most of that time wondering how the heck we will fit what we were supposed to be doing during that time into our schedule when we recover.
To limit how often I am living a life of feast or famine, I had to create a schedule that didn’t overtax me on good days but that also allowed for room to accomplish what I couldn’t while flaring. That also means clearing or extremely limiting commitments on my calendar after planning a significant outing.
Do boundaries guarantee no flares or pain? Not at all, but by setting and following as closely as possible, I can live with a lower pain level. What are some boundary examples that make your life with PSA less painful?
Do you have a sleep disorder (eg. insomnia, sleep apnea, RLS) in addition to your PsA?