It’s summer. Let’s have some fun! Hmmmm…..wait! Do fun and rheumatoid arthritis go together? Yes, of course they do. Sometimes it just means looking at life in a new way. Many times it means taking what you used to do and scaling it down or making plans that allow you to rest and rejuvenate. Here are a few ideas that have worked for me:
I have seen a lot of different practitioners in the last eight and a half years and the best advice I ever received was from a chiropractor who said, “Use it or lose it.” For me, walking is a great way to loosen up my joints in the morning. In fact, my joints have become so dependent on this exercise that I don’t miss a single day. Don’t worry if you have to walk at a turtle’s pace.
Early in my diagnosis I adopted an anonymous role model in my neighborhood. Every morning rain or shine this elderly woman is out with her walker walking. A few times I have seen her parked and resting. I asked if she needed help. Nope, she was just resting a minute and then on her way. If she can get exercise, this 44 year old woman can too!
Swimming has been my friend and my enemy. Going from hot temperatures to cold temperatures can sometimes cause my joints to stiffen up. However, when it is my friend, water feels so good. I stretch my arms and legs, I float on my back, I dip my head in the water, and I feel free for a short while.
Take a night off from cooking and go to a BBQ with friends or have someone in your family do the cooking. Sit outside and enjoy the company of others while they do all the work.
I love camping but during a flare, the physical work involved hasn’t made it appealing. My family has figured out a way to bring a little camping home. We have a fire pit in our backyard and several times during the summer we light it up and have a beautiful camp fire. A fire in the backyard still gives you the chance to connect with family and friends while indulging in a few yummy smores. (Several health stores even offer gluten free graham crackers for those following a gluten free diet.)
Don’t miss out on seeing new places and visiting faraway family. Instead, think through your trips and let your family know what will work for you. Some years I have had to say “no” to family bike rides or had to stop every two hours on long drives to stretch my stiff body. Don’t plan a lot. That way if you need to stop and take more frequent naps or rests, everyone isn’t disappointed. Also, accept that your family may go on a few outings without you. At first, it hurts to be left out, but remember they too need a little fun and excitement in their lives and there will be plenty of time to create other memories together on the trip.
Keep a small garden
Every year I have said, “When my joints feel better I am going to have a garden of my own.” Well, this year I decided to stop putting it off and instead went with one potted garden of herbs and hot peppers. My family laughs when I am cooking and say, “I’ll be right back, I have to run out to my garden.” It is on the front porch and doesn’t take me long but I feel proud of it. I stopped putting off a summer project I have wanted to do for a long time. Remember that we don’t have to go all the way with our dreams. Start small and feel the benefits of doing some portion of what you enjoy.
No matter what you choose to do, find a little time each day to soak up a little Vitamin D, something many of us with rheumatoid arthritis are lacking in. Even 10-15 minutes outside can bring wonders to how you feel. Please do be cautious of how your skin responds to medications. Also, remember rain and humid temperatures may cause your joints pain. Allow for that and be good to yourself during this time.
Get outside and have some summer fun and make some new memories!
How do you have fun in the summer? Leave a comment. I love hearing your thoughts.
Cathy can also be found writing at her personal blogs The Life and Adventures of Cateepoo
Published On: July 25, 2012