Shake the Morning Ache: Exploring Habits that are Part of Life with Psoriatic Arthritis
I recently found myself in a development workshop that explored and evaluated personal habits. I've learned by analyzing those little things we do, those small habits, often without thinking can account for a significant portion of our day.
Through this little exercise, I discovered that there are a ridiculous amount of habits that I do daily, all simply in an attempt to manage my psoriatic arthritis. I can confirm that these habits often take large amounts of time and energy away from my day.
Mornings are miserable.
There are three times during the day when my psoriatic arthritis is routinely worse - morning, late afternoon, and evening. Of the three, the morning is the worst by far.
Now, I’m not sure if this is because I’ve never really been a morning person or perhaps, it is more likely that it is just the dang PsA itself that is mucking up the works.
Any position, in this case, sleeping, that you stay in for more than about 20 minutes usually results in sore, stiff muscles. So overnight, your body has plenty of time stiffening and hardening up to make moving in the morning downright miserable.
Managing the physical pain
Especially in colder weather, I find sitting under a heated blanket to be the most helpful. The heat soothes my stiff muscles and joints. I find that the heat gives my muscles and joints the best possible chance of actually stretching. And the heat soothes my aching joints while I attempt to mentally prepare myself for the day.
Prioritizing this is important - don't rush yourself out of bed. This time to care for your bones is integral to your overall health and contributes to the success of your day. It's hard enough waking up in pain, prioritize listening to your body to take back control of the day.
Shake the mental ache
Take stock of your day. Pain levels, to-do list, and mental status. Use the time that you need to shake the physical ache to prepare for the day ahead. How I feel and what I can accomplish - or think I can accomplish - changes day-to-day and what I thought I could do might be different once the actual day arrives.
Use the time you spend soothing your body to soothe your mind and soul too. Life with PsA is challenging and if you don’t take time in the morning to help mentally and spiritually prepare for your day, then it is much more likely that your day will get away from you.
Habits takes time
These morning habits take time. I have to allow a solid 1.5-2 hours in the morning, simply to prepare for the day ahead. So, in order to account for this, I could wake 2 hours early (and often I do) but then that dips into my “actual” sleep time.
But before you know it, those 2 hours have to come from somewhere. Which sparks a whole host of other problems. But perhaps that is a different article for a different day.
Good habits create a positive mindset. When you focus on behaviors that you can control, you can develop plans and take action. The hope of being able to solve a problem is often enough to change your mood which in turn changes the outcome. Developing and keeping good habits is about the process over the result.
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