Feeling Good When I Don’t Feel Good

Life with JRA has meant that for the majority of my life I haven’t felt good in one way or another. The triad of chronic inflammation, chronic pain, and fatigue come with me wherever I go; even when I’m on vacation, these three things follow.

Anyone of them can make even the happiest person feel down, and yet one thing that everyone agrees about living well, in general, is that keeping an optimistic, hopeful frame of mind is paramount to living a fulfilling life. So, when I feel the tug of my symptoms pulling me down I try to help myself feel good in other ways. I’ve learned that the best way to do this is to ask myself three questions.

What am I passionate about?

What can I do that takes me to a place that I forget time, puts my pain in the backseat and starts the happy juices flowing? My answer usually revolves around making something, writing something, connecting with people, or reading/listening to something. Lately, I want to spend my physical energy on exercise to build back some strength I’ve lost the past few years so my passion has brought me to writing and learning. I’ve been listening to a lot of podcasts, digging into some good books, and catching up with old friends that I haven’t touched base with in a while.

What brings me hope?

The worst feeling in the world is hopelessness, so I try not to get there. During times when I am emotionally down, I find that there is inspiration everywhere I turn if I can only tweak my perspective. Over the years I’ve read books about extreme survival and learned about people who came out of horrific circumstances. I’ve found that if I think about these stories and people when I’m feeling down I come back to hope. One thing that RA teaches a person quickly is that life is never constant and by learning to adapt to changes in the moment the ride is a lot less bumpy. I’ve found that keeping this in mind helps me to shift things as soon as I notice any negative changes in my physical or emotional body, and when I do I definitely stay more hopeful.

How can I change my home environment to help me feel better?

There are so many non-medical options for feeling good. Music is something that can take me away and calm my mind. Now with so many apps and in-home virtual assistants like the echo dot, I can just ask for relaxing music, meditation music, delta music to help my sleep. It’s so easy and changes the mood in the house immediately. Aromatherapy is also an easy way to calm my mind. We all have favorite scents and certain oils like lavender are well known for enhancing relaxation. Sometimes buying a small gift for myself to lift my spirits like the baby jade plant I bought last month, puts a smile on my face.

Living in a body that doesn’t feel good is never easy. It definitely adds an extra challenge to every situation and can rob some of the joy of life. The fact is, many of the daily challenges we face we handle alone which can also add to the burden. That’s exactly why I work hard to bolster good feelings in myself in any way that I can. It’s always a happy surprise when I manage to turn around a day that I’m struggling into a day that I enjoy.

What ways do you help yourself to feel good when you’re not feeling good?

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