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Conversation of the Week: How To Stay Resilient Mentally and Physically with RA

I feel like the words, Rheumatoid Arthritis and resiliency go hand in hand. Let's face it, no one with the diagnosis, chose to sign up for it. It is something that happened in our lives. Our RA effects every aspect of our lives including the physical, mental, social, and our work aspects.

RA has personally effected my ability at times to perform everyday tasks, effected my ability to have children, ended my career as an Occupational Therapist early, negatively effected my relationships, and has financially lead me to a period of homelessness in my life. Unfortunately, this theme is all too familiar with those with chronic illness like RA.

The ability to bounce back after life changing events happen (resiliency), is a skill. A skill that many of us living with RA, strengthen as the years go on.

Personally, I have learned the art of being grateful, building a solid support system, focusing on my mental health, dancing, writing, and advocating is the key. This combination has really helped me to maintain my resiliency. My life mantra has become..Just Keep matter what! We can not change our circumstances, but we sure can control how we react to them.

I am interested in hearing some ways you are resilient.
~What are some things you do to get back up again, when life and RA knocks you down?
~Do you have any advice on being resilient?

  1. RA knocks me down everyday by approx 2pm. I have to take a good nap. It's like a reset button. myselfthroughout

    1. I am so glad that a good nap, is able to help reset . RA fatigue is real. Rest and restorative sleep is so important to help us to remain resilient in our journey. I have attached a couple articles, written by my fellow community health leaders on the topic of naps and there importance. I think you might enjoy these articles.
      Really appreciate you reaching out and sharing. May all your naps be restorative.
      Just Keep Swimming...Lynn Marie, " Team Member"

  2. Thank you for this thought provoking question.
    The biggest thing I did for me is I scaled down tremendously. I had a three bed two bath home on a large lot in southeastern Michigan.
    I sold the house, got rid of everything but absolute essentials. I moved to the same city as my only child and was able to work for the same company, just a different location.
    I also rent now.
    A huge burden of worry has been lifted. If something goes wrong beyond what I can do myself, I call a maintenance person.
    All outside responsibilities are gone, most inside are too.
    I am happy as a clam in my small place that is easy to keep up and meets all my needs.

    1. this is just amazing! Good for you for taking such good care of yourself, of knowing what you needed and then doing it. Scaling down sounds like it's made such a big difference for you, and it just warms my heart to hear that things are taken care of for you and you're happy as a clam in your place. Thanks so much for being a part of our community and commenting on Lynn Marie's question. Wishing you a gentle day. -- Warmly, Christine (Team Member)

    2. thank you for sharing. So glad you moved closer to your family. I too live in a smaller space, rent and it is helpful. Sounds like you have taken some positive and necessary steps in your life. Appreciate you reaching out. Just Keep Swimming...Lynn Marie, " Team Member"

  3. I’m so glad this piece popped back up on the feed! Each year, rather than a New Year’s Resolution I chose a word or concept to focus on. For the past two years my words were Kindness and Grace. This year I chose Resilience. I had a roller coaster of 2022 and looking back I was trying to figure out what I needed to help me through 2023. I realized I needed to keep making positive changes AND learn to deal with my every changing body and life. You are correct that Resiliency is an art we must practice. And, Hope is an essential part of Resiliency. I lost my focus in January with a bad flare and delayed infusions. But I am back on track again. Hoping you’re enjoying your swim, Jo

    1. thank you so very much for reaching out. I love that each yer you choose a word or concept to focus on. For the last two years I have been making vision boards, as I approach each new year. I find them beneficial. I have attached an article that I wrote about my journey with vision boards. I have attached the article link below.

      I know from experience how easy it is for me to lose focus when my RA flares, my medication schedule is off, and my pain ramps. So you are definitely not alone with that.

      Jo you are an RA warrior and your resiliency skills are strong. I am so very glad to hear that you are back on track. Appreciate you sharing and thank you for being part of our community. Just Keep Swimming....Lynn Marie, " Team Member"

  4. What a thoughtful way to present the question. I have actually thought about resiliency - but not in my own life, ironically since my last job was working on a USAID resiliency project. Since then, I had to drastically change my professional life, which has left my brain and talents underused, but doing an 7-4 job on a time-clock allows me to take pain management breaks and not bring work home with me.
    Reading your question helped me renew my determination to find "my" resiliency! I see life as opportunities - I just can't help it, I'm wired like that, so even when things are really quite horrible, I always believe and seek out a way to find something in the present circumstances that I can turn into something else. It feeds my creative nature to think like that and I find ways to turn things into something I can do: COVID remote work - Whoo hoo! an opportunity to learn my pain management, take behavioral coaching class and delve into art therapy, both which turned into amateur (ad)-ventures. But I think that this may not necessarily be 'resiliency'? What I see in patterns of pre/during/post major medical events followed by extended month-long flare ups, that my 'go-get'em' attitude may look 'resilient' because I immediately dig into life and on the outside it looks like I picked myself up and walked on after RA took me down....but what I feel is the RA backlash of doing things I couldn't do while in a flare up... which perpetuates a cycle of RA slaps me down, I get back up and circumvent the circumstances, RA slaps me down harder again, a little more depressed and discouraged, I pick myself back up again and with mental gusto go for life again, RA slaps me down even harder...okay, you get the picture. Maybe someone can comment about how I'm mentally framing this or about the pattern, or, is this 'resiliency'? Thanks for reading my comment 😀!

    1. What great insight and what a healthy perspective, . Even if you are not initially motivated by a drive for resiliency, it becomes acts of resiliency. Thanks for chiming in. Sending the absolute best of all wishes your way. - Lori (Team Member)

    2. thank you for your very thoughtful response to my post on resiliency. I think you are doing a great job in continuing to strengthen your resiliency skills. The last job you had working on the USAID project on resiliency sounds fascinating.
      I agree with your perspective that life continually present us all with opportunities. Very optimistic perspective and your continual emphasis on learning are all so very important in continuing to build our resiliency skills.
      I think it is wonderful that you are participating in art therapy. Is there are particular medium you use that you find helpful and enjoy? I personally dance and it is very cathartic to me. I have attached an article below, that I wrote about dance and my RA. I hope you find the article beneficial.
      Regarding your question. You absolutely 100% are displaying resiliency when your RA flares and or you are going through recovery process from a flare or surgery. I personally believe that you seeking out a behavioral coach, your participation in art, and your amazing work on your mental health has helped to strengthen you ability to be resilient and bounce back.
      I've lived with RA going on 19 years this May, and the feelings I experience as a direct result are real and quite honestly normal for the amount of loss and grieving I experience every day living with RA. I guess what I am saying is that being resilient to me doesn't mean that I won't feel. It is the mental health counseling, dance, research and continued learning about RA and potential treatments (medication and alternative treatments) that all help me to overcome, cognitively process, and endure the marathon journey we walk having a chronic illness and all of it's many complications.
      I hope this helps. You are a VERY RESILIENT person and a RA warrior.
      Thank you for sharing and reaching out. Again, your thoughtful post meant a lot to me. Just Keep Swimming...Lynn Marie, "RheumatoidArthritis.Net Team Member"

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