Setting and Staying on a Schedule with Psoriatic Arthritis
You may think it's silly, but setting a schedule to adhere to can truly help you manage your psoriatic arthritis more effectively.
When I was on disability, if I didn't have doctor appointments, I had nothing else to do during the day. I found myself unmotivated, depressed, and feeling quite poor. But once I created a schedule for myself, it would get me out of bed and increase my motivation. Of course, I always had to listen to my body. If I awoke and felt my body needed extra rest, I would give it the rest it needed. Other than that, I would push myself every day to complete my routine.
I worked with a health coach whose rheumatologist refused to grant disability to a patient who didn’t submit a daily routine to them. The rheumatologist feared that they would go on disability, become immobile, sink into a depression, and exacerbate their psoriatic arthritis.
Keeping our brains active and bodies moving has huge impacts on our health. Whenever we stick to a schedule, we can promote health in our lives by not allowing ourselves to succumb to the “I just want to lay in bed all day” or “but this couch is so comfy and I have nothing to do” thoughts.
Coming up with your own schedule or routine can help promote positivity, health, and wellness in your own life.
Coming up with your plan
We are each so drastically different. We like to do different things, eat different foods, and find pleasure in different activities. Because of this, you should absolutely personalize your daily routine to include what lights you up.
Maybe you love to journal, read the Bible, read a book, call a certain friend, blog, work on a personal project, draw, write poetry, cook, or take a walk in the park.
Create a schedule that makes you smile and forces you to enjoy the little things in life.
Because a schedule should be customized, my routine may not speak to you. But to give you an example of what I would do, here is the routine I would adhere to in order to get me motivated to get out of bed.
I would set my alarm to go off at a certain time in the morning. Setting it for 9:30 a.m., my condition never made it easy for me to just jump out of bed. I’d have a goal for myself to get up and out of bed by 10 a.m. I’m a person who loves, and appreciates, sleep.
Once I was up, I would drink a glass of water that was right next to my bed. I found this glass of water to help rehydrate me after a night of sleeping. I would also use this glass of water to take my pills that I did not have to take with food.
Starting my day on a positive note, I would turn to either an inspirational book I was reading (such as May Cause Miracles by Gabrielle Bernstein), journal (depending on how my hands were feeling) or I would sit in silence simply thinking of positive things about myself or the day. By starting off on a positive note, it helped me frame my attitude for the rest of my day.
I would then crutch back to the bathroom (I was on crutches for 3.5 years), brush my teeth, wash my face and do the typical morning hygiene routine.
After changing into some yoga attire, I would roll out my mat and get my yoga on. Some days my practice was simply laying on my mat or, once I had more mobility, sinking back into child's pose for half an hour. Some days I surprised myself and got a good workout in. It was all about listening to my body, seeing how I felt that day, and honoring myself. Many days I didn’t even feel like getting on my mat (or getting out of bed), but I made the commitment to myself that I would do it. Even if it was just lying there, I still accomplished something. Many times I found it would help me greatly. If I was feeling nauseous, some gentle, reclining twists would help. Or if I was having joint pain in my knee or hip, some supporting yoga postures would help it. There was a long period of time where I could only practice laying on my mat or sitting in a chair. Regardless of what I did, it made me feel accomplished and it helped me mentally.
If you’d like a few yoga resources to do the same, check out the following:
After my yoga, I would venture upstairs to the kitchen. Some days the 10 steps up to the second floor seemed like Mount Everest, while other days I easily crunched up them with no problem. I could usually tell what kind of day it was going to be based on how I walked up the steps. Once I got to the kitchen, I would have a late breakfast/early lunch. Food was always an important aspect of my day as I look at it as part of my treatment plan. I’d always make sure to eat something nutritious. I knew that I needed to fuel my body with the right nutrients to help me combat my condition and to give me energy.
Once I was done eating, I would head back downstairs and get on my computer. How long I would be there would be dependent on many factors—how my hands were feeling, what my pain level was, and how my overall energy was.
My main focus for the afternoon was to do something productive. If I had physical therapy, a doctor appointment or a treatment scheduled, that usually took the bulk of my afternoon. But when I didn’t have those, I would spend the afternoon working on my blog, connecting with other patients online, reading health-related content, or watching health-related webinars. Because I’m passionate about sharing my story and connecting with others, this is how I wanted to spend my time. This part of my day alone made it worth getting out of bed in the morning.
One of the years I was on disability, I enrolled in the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. This year-long program allowed me to complete my holistic health coaching certification at home. While I was in this program, I would use the afternoons to complete some of my classwork.
Every day around 3 o'clock, an alarm would go off on my phone alerting me it was time to stop what I was doing and check in with myself. I would make myself a cup of tea and take a few moments to check in with my body. Sometimes I would sit in my chair analyzing how my body was feeling or sometimes I would complete a short meditation.
The rest of my afternoon was dictated by how I felt. Did I feel well enough to leave the house for an hour? Did I want to spend energy and take a shower? Maybe I felt like trying a new recipe for dinner. I’d gauge my activities for the rest of the day by what my energy level was.
When I was on disability, I had to move back in with my family. So by late afternoon, my sister, brother, or mom would usually come home. I would always look forward to them coming back!
I love to cook. Planning my meals has always been a source of fun to me. I always looked forward to dinner time and whipping up something to eat. Since I have such a restrictive diet, I ended up cooking for myself. This proved fun on high energy days, but on low energy days, it was a cause of frustration. I always made extras to freeze and have on hand for those low energy days.
After dinner, I’d relax. I'd watch TV, maybe participate in a Twitter chat (like #SpoonieChat), or do more health research. I always looked at this as the time I could just kick up my heels and sink into the couch. I had been productive during the day, so I “earned” this down time.
Heading into bedtime, I would pick up my routine again. I would sit in meditation for 10-20 minutes, journal my thoughts after and potentially read, depending on what book I was obsessing over at the moment.
Starting and ending my day on positive notes is very important to me. Before I would fall asleep, I would always recount the positive things that happened that day. I would give honor and gratitude for the little things I was able to achieve. I had been able to get out of bed, I was able to eat lunch, perhaps I was even able to get out to the store for an hour or so. Ending the day on a high note allowed me to fall asleep more easily and dream happy dreams!
Of course, each day was different, depending on appointments and schedules, but I tried my best to stick to some sort of schedule.
It’s extremely difficult to go from having a million things to do, to absolutely nothing except focusing on your health. It can be very depressing and cause you to begin to focus only on the negative aspects of your health journey. By having a schedule that you can adhere to you, you can force yourself into more positive ways of thinking. You can overcome the negativity and fear and truly push yourself down a path of healing.
I’m now off of disability and my routine has changed drastically. I’m back to work and have many obligations that fill my day. But, one thing hasn’t changed is the fact that I must still remain positive and push forward. I still have to make daily modifications in my life and I still try my best to maintain routines to help keep me in a positive mindset. Our lives are ever evolving and we have to be open to being flexible and agile. I suggest you revisit your routines every so often to ensure they’re still working for you and to tweak where you see fit!