'Tis the time of year when your next year’s resolutions begin to interrupt your holiday thoughts.
As a person living with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), try this resolution on for size: Be it resolved that I will cherish and honor my health and well-being. I will do what I can to prevent myself from taking a wild ride down the slippery slope of irresponsibility.
Fact: You have a chronic disease, but that should not mean that you give up on yourself. Every little thing you do to support your health and well-being can help you travel the distance. There are times when you may not immediately see or feel the results of your efforts, but that doesn’t mean that nothing is happening.
During the hustle and bustle of the season, pause and implement your 2017 resolutions during the H.O.L.I.D.A.Y.S.
H – Hitchhike
I’m a big believer in hitchhiking on the ideas of others. Find others who are living with RA and either adopt or adapt their ideas to make them work for you.
O – Ommm
You may not be into yoga or meditation, but it should not stop you from taking advantage of this nasal sound. The vibration in your sinuses helps to relax the lungs and blood vessels. During this season of fine food, you could replace it with another nasal sound, like “Yummmmm”!
When you live with RA, grab all the relaxation you can. This is a simple exercise to do while you’re doing other things, such as preparing dinner, driving, or watching television.
L – Laughter and love
Maybe, like me, you’re not the funniest person in your circle. However, the way I see it, every comic needs an audience. Or to put it another way: if a comic tells a joke and no one is there to hear it, is that joke still funny? Humor is a very individual thing. Find what makes you laugh and stuff your stocking with more of that.
“How do I love thee? Let me count the ways,” asks Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Who and what do you love? Get more of it!
I – Ice (and heat)
Make friends with your ice and heat packs.
Before exercising, check in to see how you feel. A simple rule to follow before you partake of your health care-approved exercises is: if you’re stiff, add heat. If your joints are swollen, use ice.
D – Dance
To feel better. For the hell of it. Because you can. To express your joy. To get some exercise. To loosen up.
A – Art
Several years ago, I had the pleasure of attending an event in Toronto called “Living ARTHfully.” As a lover of puns, this event immediately spoke to me.
How can you live “arthfully”? Creatively? It may not necessarily be with pen, paper, or paint, but it could be in the myriad of ways in which you solve some of the issues you encounter on a daily basis.
Y – Yes (and no)
I’ve always maintained that it is easier to say “no” to the not-so-pleasant things, than it is to the more desirable ones.
Exercise your yes and no “muscles” judiciously. It’s far too easy to become tucked up in your home because you’re way too comfortable. On the other hand, you might have far too much on your schedule and time at home is just what your little heart desires.
S – Stress
If you feel that your emotions are like a herd of runaway reindeer, it is important for you to learn and practice techniques to help you balance your nervous system. A balanced nervous system equals good emotional management skills. You want to acknowledge your thoughts and feelings, then reach for ones that leave you feeling a little bit, or a whole lot, better.
As you put 2016 to bed, start thinking about how you can make small changes during the H.O.L.I.D.A.Y.S. Then do them!
May you have a safe and joyous holiday season that is filled with good cheer! With a wink of my eye, I wish your RA “good-bye”!
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Marianna Paulson is known as Auntie Stress. On her website, you’ll find links to her two blogs, Auntie Stress Cafe and the award-winning, A Rheumful of Tips. She also publishes a mostly monthly newsletter called The Connective Issue. Sign up here to receive information, tips, and to learn about giveaways.