So, I asked my Rheumy, if I get the joint replacements in my hands as you suggested, will I be able to play the piano? He said YES, I said that's odd, I never could before! BA DUMP BUMP! Sorry....... I told you, I have RA in my funny bone....
Well, that's not really true, in fact I think that is the only joint (plus the seedy bar down the street) that is not affected by RA. However, your funny bone can affect your RA! It's true, Humor and laughter strengthen your immune system, boost your energy, diminish pain, and protect you from stress. Think about it, the last time you had a good laugh, did you think about your pain? NO! You think about nothing but the fun thing that just happened, endorphins are released in your brain, your own personally built pain killers! So what all can a good laugh do for you?
- Laughter relaxes the whole body. A good, hearty laugh relieves physical tension and stress, leaving your muscles relaxed for up to 45 minutes after.
- Laughter boosts the immune system. Laughter decreases stress hormones and increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies, thus improving your resistance to disease.
- Laughter triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. Endorphins promote an overall sense of well-being and can even temporarily relieve pain.
- Laughter protects the heart. Laughter improves the function of blood vessels and increases blood flow, which can help protect you against a heart attack and other cardiovascular problems.
So you can see that humor and laughter can be very beneficial to your health, even helping to reduce pain levels. Well, that is all well and fine, but at times it can be hard to find the comedy in our daily lives. Believe me, with severe/aggressive RA and currently in a wicked flare, I TRULY understand how hard it can be to chuckle about something.
There are things we can do though, even at the worst of times, to find the lighter side of life. There is the key word...... lighter. As in lighten up! It is far to easy to just slide into the dark side of things. Why me, why now, what next...... on and on. We have all been there, that slippery slope. So how DO you lighten up? There are steps you can take. These are just a few:
- Laugh at yourself. Share your embarrassing moments. The best way to take yourself less seriously is to talk about times when you took yourself too seriously.
- Attempt to laugh at situations rather than bemoan them. Look for the humor in a bad situation, and uncover the irony and absurdity of life. This will help improve your mood and the mood of those around you.
- Surround yourself with reminders to lighten up. Keep a toy on your desk or in your car. Put up a funny poster in your office. Choose a computer screensaver that makes you laugh. Frame photos of you and your family or friends having fun.
- Keep things in perspective. Many things in life are beyond your control—particularly the behavior of other people.
Lets take a look at these. Laugh at yourself and situations in your life. This one is a no brainer for me! I do so many goofy things during the day due to my RA, it would be hard to find a day when I could not laugh at myself! Thankfully my wife has the same sense of humor as I do, and will not think twice about pointing out anything I do that may be entirely due to my RA, and still funny as all get out. She may make a wise crack about something, to which I will "threaten" to chase her down and make her pay dearly........ she will say something to the effect of taking a nap while I find my cane and get to my feet, please warn her before I get close...... LOL! It's easy to find things about yourself to laugh about when you really look. (BTW, I WON'T warn her either, she will be surprised, and SORRY when I finally get there!)
Surround yourself with reminders to lighten up. This is another topic I have covered 100 percent! You have all heard of man caves, you should see mine! If I had a cot I could live out here! I have a 2 1/2 car garage converted into a wood-shop when we had the house built. About 2 years later along came the RA beast and the shop was shuttered for sometime. I have since made my shop more into a hobby shop, lost some big time tools and added some big time toys along the way. I have a Model RR along the ceiling, Pirate ships, Dinosaurs, Plasma Balls, many model airplanes, even a hand built, motorized Snoopy chasing the Red Barons tri plane around the ceiling. All sorts of fun things. And that is exactly what they are, FUN, they make me smile, make me happy, make me laugh. I can come out here (my computer is out here along with a TV and DVR as well) and I come out here a LOT, and forget about RA. I make wooden toys, small wood projects of all types, build models, paint with acrylics. All of it makes it easy to have fun, lose myself AND my RA in time.
Keep Things in Perspective. This may be the most important of all of them, and the hardest one to actually pull off. When you are in pain 24/7, perspective is a term an artist uses, not an RA patient! But therein lies the whole issue. You cannot control the pain, you did not ask for it, and you certainly are not to blame for it. So try to keep the perspective, even when you are flaring. I am at the moment, my wife and I were goofing off earlier....... no, I didn't catch her, but I came close! When I got up, my foot popped........ and it is still killing me, but I know I did nothing to make it happen (got out of the chair?) Did not ask for the pain and I cannot control it. It does not make it hurt any less, but at the same time I am not dwelling on it either. Keeping an upbeat attitude can certainly help. An extra pain killer wouldn't hurt either........
All in all, its a proven fact that humor can help heal, so can a positive attitude and a strong will to overcome the pain. Try it and see what changes it can make in your life. I know it will help!
Published On: April 15, 2013