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Respecting Your Boundaries to Lessen Stress

I thought emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic would bring a sense of relief as I started mingling with friends and family again. For the most part, it has. Post-pandemic life has been wonderful for me in that it I’m able to see friends and family more often.

What challenges has my extroversion brought?

This is definitely a good thing for somewhat extroverted people like me. But being outgoing brought a different set of challenges: setting boundaries to help keep flares at bay.

After being cooped up and spending all my time with my husband – I love him, I do! - I was looking to connect with more friends: go to the movies, out to dinner, shopping… My body just wasn’t prepared to jump back into life all at once. Cue the flares.

How are my brain and body at odds?

I consider myself adaptable, but I’m learning that’s my brain. The rest of my body enjoys the comfort of a predictable routine. Getting the two to work together takes compromise. I need to remind myself that switching gears quickly often makes for miserable days with psoriatic arthritis.

How do I manage activity around my psoriatic arthritis?

Even when my psoriatic arthritis is well controlled – thank goodness I’ve seen this side of the disease! - I need to build up to more activity. I’ve started back with one day a week of more exertion. When that is tried and approved, I’ll move up to two days a week, then three. Honestly, even at my best with no active arthritis, three days is about the max for me.

Why is slowing down so hard?

Not only is it hard for me to slow down, but it’s also challenging for friends and family to accept my slower pace. I need to put up boundaries not only for myself, but also so those who love me understand where I am each week (or day or hour!) and what it doable. One false move and I invite a flare that can last days or weeks.

What mental boundaries have I set?

It’s also important for me to set mental boundaries. Sometimes it is more exhausting to make my brain work overtime than my body. When my brain is tired, I’m no good to anyone. Saying no to extra projects and volunteer opportunities is ok. It just means I care enough about myself to prioritize my health. Being the healthiest I can be is good for me, and my family. It’s the “place your oxygen mask on yourself before helping others” scenario.

What do I do to reduce stress?

I try to only take on extra projects that I know I can complete without added stress. After all, stress is my top contributor to flares. Emotional tears and tears of pain are just not worth the hassle of added stress. It’s not easy to be stress free. I mean, can anyone really be entirely stress-free? For me, I have to at least try.
That includes putting up realistic boundaries on the amount of “extras” I take on. Saying no is never easy for me, but I know if I don’t limit my extra activities, I won’t be able to do anything for a long time. That’s no good for anyone.

What does prioritizing myself mean?

Not everyone will be able to put themselves in my shoes. Not everyone will understand what it’s like to have a chronic disease like psoriatic arthritis. To be honest, not everyone will care. That’s why it is especially important that I stick to the plan and respect my own boundaries. When I show that I’m worth it, others start to respect, and possibly even gain an ounce of understanding, why I can’t just ignore my health, even in my best days. Putting myself first is not putting others last. Rather, it’s prioritizing fewer flares to be the best I can be for everyone.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Psoriatic-Arthritis.com team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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