The Month Ahead: Taking Care of Yourself with RA

Patient Expert

We are having yet another "interesting" winter. In my neck of the woods (Toronto, Canada), it has been 37 days since the temperatures were above freezing. That's a really long time of being cold without a break. Much of the rest of North America has also been seeing some extremely wintry weather, Boston being one of the obvious choices for Top 10 Worst Weather, should we be inclined to create such a list. In the depths of this cold and dark season, we can all get a little frayed around the edges. Now more than ever, it's important to take care of yourself.

Self-care is not a new concept, but it is a term that is increasingly part of conversations among people who live with chronic illness. It means sometimes putting yourself first, because if you don't take care of yourself, you can't take care of anyone else. But there are many other facets to self-care as you adapt to life with rheumatoid arthritis. This month, we're going to take a closer look at additional ways of being good to yourself.

Looking after your physical and emotional health is one of the key factors in creating a better life with RA. Most of us are taking medications for RA, both to suppress the disease and to control the symptoms. Although medication is an important part of reducing the impact of inflammation on your body, it also has the potential for side effects. It's why we get regular blood work, so our doctors can keep an eye on the function of various organs. Later this month, I'll take a more in-depth look at how you keep your kidneys healthy while taking RA meds.

Working to improve your physical health is the foundation for starting to feel better, but your emotional health can make or break how you cope and live with RA. I'm going to write about two aspects of dealing with your emotional health. First, I'll look into how counselling can help you adapt to RA.

Medications can also affect your emotional health. Prednisone, in particular, is notorious for wreaking havoc with some people's emotions. In my second post on emotional health, I'll write about how to deal with this.

Many in the community try to be positive as a way of coping with RA. Personally, I've found that creating a habit of happiness is a cornerstone to how I live well with RA. But it's not as easy as it sounds. Britt's post this month will explore the struggle to be positive.

Taking care of yourself is also an important factor of your day-to-day life. Two members of the RA site writing team are going to look at how to make your day easier. It starts with something as simple as the clothes you wear and whether they enhance your feeling of comfort or make it harder for you to move. Vanessa will share her experience in finding clothes that are comfortable for RA bodies. Once you start moving through your day, another challenge can be keeping up with household chores. Marianna is coming to the rescue, posting tips for cleaning with RA.

Moving out of your home and into the healthcare circle also has a number of challenges. Leslie is going to continue her series on navigating the health care system. Last month, she wrote about patient advocates. This month, she will explore other health services that can help make the experience easier. In her second post, she'll get down to the nitty-gritty of building a good relationship with your doctor.

How do you take care of yourself this winter? We look forward to hearing your stories both here on the RA site, as well as on our Facebook page.