Living a Healthy Lifestyle Will Help Control Rheumatoid Arthritis Symptoms

  • Have you decided what's wrong with you yet? After all, it's what making resolutions is all about, isn't it? To review your life, to find it wanting, to pick it apart and identify areas of dissatisfaction and is it any wonder so many of us get depressed around New Year's?

     

    A few years ago, I decided to flip things around a little. To remember that - paraphrasing the words of Jon Kabat-Zinn - there's more right with me than there is wrong with me. It meant that I didn't make a vow to lose weight, quit smoking, get fit, get organized or any of the usual resolutions that usually end badly somewhere around the second week of January. Instead of looking backward and setting unrealistic goals I had no motivation to pursue -- after all, depriving yourself of cookies just seems inhuman -- I looked forward, looked at the brand-new year just around the corner, and when my view wasn't blocked by an unhealthy dollop of self-loathing, the potential of 365 days of sheer possible became positively intoxicating.

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    And with that, I started getting ideas. Ideas for growth, ideas for new approaches, ideas for leaving old patterns behind andchanging them to new perspectives. In theory, not that different from resolutions, but in reality, that internal mental switch made all the difference, enabling me to approach building the new me with enthusiasm instead of half-defeated fatalism.

     

    It's been five years since I started building that new me, a journey that began when I started Enbrel after a big flare. It continued with a switch to Humira three years ago, and every New Year's since then, I've looked back at a year where more became possible than I'd previously thought would happen or could happen. And this year, the difference between what I could do at the end of December 2008 and what I am able to do now is mindblowing. Sure, there's been pain and injuries and long stretches of recovery, but in between and over and throughout, I have been working harder than I have in years (and loving every minute), getting back my social life, seeing friends and going out, finding love, and having more energy than I thought was possible. It has kept growing, I have kept improving and it makes me still inside with joy.

     

    When you share your life with a chronic illness, it's easy to get lost -- lost in wishing things were different, lost in what isn't going well, lost in despairing of ever getting your head above water. But what if you look to the new year with optimism? After all, it's 12 months in which you can begin to get out from under. 52 weeks in which to change your approach, change your doctor, change your meds, change your job, change the way you live. 365 days to explore what to leave behind and what to add that can help you get your RA down to a dull roar, help you change the way you think, help you shift the focus to life and living it. Regardless of where you are in your journey with RA, this new year, this new decade, offers nothing but potential, nothing but possible. It may take months or years of working at it, of tinkering, of letting hope infuse your actions, of looking forward, but if you don't put limits around where you want to go, where you are now, who you are now can become where and who you want to be.

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Published On: December 29, 2009