Healthful practices

Counting My Blessings: Healthful Practices

While the holidays can be wonderful, all the holiday cheer can also highlight the aspects of our lives that make it hard to feel cheerful. RA can bring out the Grinch in me, so inspired by the Whos down in Whoville who sing in spite of their loss, I am challenging myself to think about all that I can be grateful for. This series will spotlight the elements that make life with RA easier for me to bear.

I’ll go ahead and out myself: I don’t always do all the things that I know will help me feel better. There are times when I just can’t seem to summon up the energy, justify the expense, or (most often) make the time. However, there are some things that are natural, safe, and are indeed beneficial for me, and I’m so glad they’re available.

Yoga. This systematic way of breathing, moving, and meditating has infused cultures around the world and through the ages, and I can understand its popularity, especially in modern day America. Yoga not only stretches and strengthens parts of the human body that beginners might have never previously known even existed, it promotes a state of present-mindedness that is becoming more and more rare in our go-go-go society.

I have practiced yoga for 12 years, at times only allowing a few days between sessions, and at other times letting months go by without practice. During the times when I practice yoga regularly, I definitely notice an improvement in my RA, with a decrease in pain and inflammation and an increase in energy. Along with this vigor comes confidence and a sense of well-being. Yoga does require time and some money (I rarely have the self-discipline to practice regularly at home), but when I create the space in my budget and hectic schedule to get to a yoga class, I am always grateful to be there.

Massage. A good massage from a practitioner who really understands the human body can leave me feeling as if I’m actually walking on air. I have a happy, floating feeling, as if my body doesn’t have to fully support its own weight. Having used a number of massage therapists, I can attest that they are not all equal. Massages from some merely feel “nice,” and from others may feel relaxing. Yet, my massage therapist of choice produces that dreamy, happy-with-the-world feeling each time I decide to treat myself to an hour on her table. She truly understands how the various systems of the body interact and impact one another, and she knows what each part of my body requires, giving some areas more pressure and stimulation that others (and never applying too much pressure, thus avoiding any joint tenderness or pain). I always have an all-is-right-with-the-world feeling after a massage from her.

Acupuncture. Initially I was hesitant to try acupuncture. I wouldn’t consider myself as a person who has a “problem” with needles, but I don’t think I’m alone in not loving the feeling of a needle entering my skin. Therefore, the idea of lying still with multiple needles stuck in my body for an extended period of time wasn’t something I was exactly eager to try. Yet desperation will lead us to all sorts of experiments, and acupuncture ended up being one that was worth it. Quite different from my expectations, during most sessions I don’t even feel the needles being inserted. They are tiny: far smaller than the needles used in medical offices or packaged with RA biologic drugs. Therefore my skin often doesn’t even register they are there. Aside from a very few pressure points, most of the time there is no discomfort whatsoever, and a calm, peaceful feeling is predominant. Lying on the table is actually incredibly relaxing, and gives me a light floating feeling akin to that from a great massage. When I have had persistent flares lasting for weeks or months, keeping regular acupuncture appointments has been a component of my treatment plan that has helped me get back to stability.

Hot baths. Oh how I love the penetrating heat of a hot bath on my joints. Before becoming a parent, during periods of persistent joint pain I took hot baths on a daily basis, sometimes even sitting so long that I’d drain some of the cooled water for a fresh, hot refill. Hot water is so soothing on my achy bones, and loosens and relaxes the muscles surrounding them. I get an all-over sense of calm and peace in the warm water. Now that we have small kids, it’s harder to take this “me time,” but when I really need it my husband will cover parenting duties solo so that I can have an hour in the tub with the door locked, and it always brings some level of bliss.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The RheumatoidArthritis.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

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  • judy york
    4 years ago

    I take supplements for my RA, “Plexus Fast Relief Pain” products versus pharmaceutical medications, and I kayak every week. In fact I kayaked yesterday for two hours. I live in Oklahoma, and we have seven city lakes within 10 miles of my house, any direction I want to drive, but my favorite lake is Regional Park. It boarders a golf course, and always has wildlife on it. Water is pumped into this lake, so it stays full year round. The drought has not effected it, and that is the main reason that I like it, the best. I do have occasional flare ups with pain, like our trip home from Denver, Colorado on Saturday; which took 12 hours to get home. My knees starting hurting while we were sitting for an additional hour, boarded, waiting for our plane to take off. It was all that I could do to deal with it, and it was a situation, that my only choice was to grin and bear it. Once I was able to get to my supplement products, which were in my carry on, in the bottom of the plane, I had relief, and was 100% again, by morning. I love the fact that with these all natural supplements, I have no side effects to deal with. My quality of life, has been completely restored, and I view that has a tremendous blessing!

  • Davida Jones
    4 years ago

    I have tried so many things to help myself feel better, but there seems to be some sort of limitation put upon me by one of my doctors. For example: I cannot take warm baths because it has a negative effect on m psoriasis. I do have a pool and live in Florida, the cool water causes shock when I first get into it, but I try to move around in it and swim or do some sort of exercising in the pool because it doesn’t seem as difficult as doing them the normal way. The problem, I have not been able to determine when I have done enough and end up paying the price for that error within minutes of getting out of the pool. Sometimes I will have a certain area of my bottom that is causing me to have extreme pain that is worse than the pain I am already experiencing and I find that if I put a heating paid on that area, it does give me some relief, for about 15 minutes, then I am back to square one. I don’t know if anyone else has this problem, but I am hot all the time. It can be 40 degrees outside, yet I will be inside my home sitting by an open window with a fan blowing directly on e and I am still sweating. My hands never seem to get cold, yet stay hot all the time. It is very uncomfortable. I know I live in Florida, the central part. Now we do get freezing temperatures at times during this part of the year, or the high for the day may only reach 50 degrees. I know for most of you that live in the colder regions of the country, this sounds like the beginning of spring to you, but us Floridians, it is different. I have not turned my heat on ever since I bought this place and it has been 5 years. Long before I finally got properly diagnosed. So I was wondering if anyone else out there is or has experienced these same symptoms? I bring it up to my doctor and he tells me that a lot of the mediation I am on, this is one of the side effects, which I have seen on a couple of my meds, but not on all of them. I do have Hypothyroidism, which your thyroid does regulate your body temperature. But I have checked during these periods and so has the doctor or hospital, and I am not running a fever. I am not going through menopause, because I had to have an emergency, complete Hysterectomy when I was 24 years old, so I have been through menopause. So why can no one give me a correct answer to this question. I want to know why it happens and if here is anything that I n do to stop it or at least ease the effects that I suffer when it does happen? But thus far, I still have no answer. I feel today like I am doomed. It is such a beautiful day here in Florida. The sun is shining with a light breeze and about 84 degrees outside. But I a in so much pain, very hot and sweaty and I feel irritable. I am sorry to all of you that I am feeling irritable today and pray it does not come out as if I am not grateful for what I do have, because I am grateful for all the blessings that the Lord has blessed me with. And I do not say things like, “Why me”. Because, why not me? I am not better than anyone else that walks this earth and we who suffer from the disease knows that they do not know how a person gets this disease. At least not 100 percent, yet. They have theory, but no definite answer.

  • judy york
    4 years ago

    The side effects to pharmaceutical medications is why I chose to put Plexus Fast Relief Pain products to the test. I saw positive results in nine days. These products carry a 60 day money back guarantee, so you have nothing to lose, to see if they make a difference. I was on methotrexate injections and prednisone, reduced to a couch potato, with no quality of life. I have been on Plexus products for 18 months now. My doctor was not supportive when I took this supplement into him for his support. He just lectured me, on how supplements were just vitamins, and that they would not work. But I and God, proved him wrong! I started kayaking in April 2014, and I still kayak every week. I am blessed beyond all that I could have ever prayed for. My RA inflammation is totally under control. I can not say that I never have any flare ups, because I do occasionally. Just like the 12 hours it took to get home from Denver, Colorado this last Saturday. But my Plexus products worked like a trooper. By morning I was back to perfect shape, and I took in a 2 hour kayaking paddle, to keep up with my weekly exercise. I am truly blessed to of been able to regain my quality of life!

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