Managing Rheumatoid Arthritis: Identifying Priorities For A Balanced Life

Vanessa Collins Health Guide
  • It is 5:30 on a sultry Saturday morning, and I am home alone. It is quiet. My husband is about two hours away on a business trip, and I will be here by myself until noon.


    The unexpected calm has made me realize how I have been caught up in the hub-bub of life and not really doing what I need to do to take care of myself physically or emotionally. Summer seems to be the time I get caught up in too many activities, wear myself out, and then wonder why.


    We are in the midst of a three-day weekend, and I am going to take the time to rest my body and mind, and nourish my soul. Sometimes we need some “Home Alone” time to reflect on the direction our lives are taking.

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    I suddenly feel the need to reset my priorities, and stick to them. A friend with RA once told me she visualizes her limited amount of energy as a bowl of marbles. Going to the grocery store may require one marble, working may expend 5 marbles. She mentally removes the marbles from her virtual bowl each time she completes an activity. When the marbles are all gone, she knows it is time to stop and rest. This sounds like a great plan to me.


    Unfortunately, working does use up a lot of my “energy marbles”, but I am happy to be able to work and help provide for my family. It gives me a sense of purpose and keeps me going. Still, there needs to be more balance in my daily activities. I have decided to write down what is important to me.


    V's Priority List:

    1. Keep all doctor and lab appointments

    2. Go to work every day possible

    3. Do gentle, stretching exercises every morning

    4. Cook and share dinner at the table every evening with my husband

    5. Attend Mass and encourage the people I know at church who are suffering

    6. Take care of my kitties

    7. Do as much housework as possible, but don't sweat the small stuff

    8. Water my flowers and raised bed garden and enjoy nurturing the plants

    9. Dust off the Nikon and take some pictures ( good for the soul )

    10. Visit the theater and see at least two live productions this summer

    My priority list may seem a bit silly. Why do I need a list? Good question! I just know that if I don't manage my time and energy, RA starts to manage me. If I don't focus on what I need to do, RA focuses on my joints, and I end up in a flare... hurting and depressed.


    I don't know if any of you have the same tendency as I to get caught up in the routines of life that zap energy and leave little time for fun. If you do find this happening, you might want to make your own priority list when you are home alone and have the time and peace to reflect on the direction your life is taking. Don't forget to set up that bowl of virtual marbles! Hope you all are having a wonderful summer, and enjoying the people and the things you hold close in your heart.

Published On: August 01, 2011