Managing RA During the Holidays

Cathee McKeown Health Guide
  • Most people have heard about the holiday blues, but not many have heard of the holiday flares. For those of us with rheumatoid arthritis this time of year can be the beginning of very painful season. There are many contributing factors to why you may experience a flare during the holidays; bad eating, stress and depression, just to name a few. Your RA symptoms may increase due to these factors and can make what should be a great holiday into a flare to remember. The fact is we can not always control our symptoms, but we can make choices to help avoid the pitfalls of pain. The most important tip that I can give you is to slow down. There are a million things to do and not enough time to do them. So, keep it simple. Your house doesn't have to look like a Christmas museum in order to feel festive!

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    If you want to decorate your home invite some friends over for an afternoon of decorating and tree trimming. Listen to music and enjoy some healthy food and drinks while spending some quality time together. One of the most stressful elements of the holidays is shopping! I have to say that I am a big fan of the internet for that reason alone. You don't even have to leave your house (which for many RA sufferers is impossible.) You can be in the comfort of your own home, do your research and find a great gift. You can also get your friends and family to register for gifts on line so you each know what the other one wants and can find out if someone already purchased that item. What a great idea!


    If you are planning to have dinner at your house ask for help. A potluck can be even better than doing it all yourself. You get a variety of tastes and it's much easier to make just one dish verses ten. Try to cook an inflammation friendly meal. Create a new tradition and cook a fabulous salmon for dinner. Salmon is one of the best foods for inflammation. Use more raw foods and vegetables. There is a great book called Inflammation Nation (by: Floyd H. Chilton, Ph.D.) that has the top foods to avoid as well as tips on what foods to eat to reduce arthritis symptoms. If you have someone who wants to buy you a gift, there are many terrific cookbooks dedicated to arthritis friendly recipes. One that I love is called The Hip Chicks Guide to Macrobiotics (by: Jessica Porter). Even if you aren't familiar with macrobiotics, this is a great read and offers some interesting alternative menu ideas. Give it a try! This can be a fun way to try something new and help keep your symptoms under control during the holiday food festival.


    Lastly, you need to keep on schedule. It's so important to continue your daily activities, exercise and medications. Set aside time for yourself. This time of year can bring along a lot of thought and reflection. Spend an afternoon with a good book or look at an old photo album and remember all of the good things in your life. The holidays somehow seem to lose their true meaning as we are bombarded with ads for that perfect gift. People put a tremendous amount of stress on themselves by spending too much money and trying to do everything just perfect. Others may isolate themselves from all of the holiday activities and feel depressed and lonely. Give yourself a break and just enjoy this time as much as you can.


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    December is the last month of the year. It's an opportunity to reflect on the year past and look forward to the year ahead. Make this holiday season about you! Take care of your body and mind. The greatest gift you can give yourself and those who are close to you is your best self!


    Related Information:


    Living and Coping with Rheumatoid Arthritis

Published On: December 04, 2007