Finding the Holiday Spirit with RA

Sometimes it’s hard to get in the holiday spirit when you’re achy and stiff from rheumatoid arthritis. I admit that this year is a little tough for me because I’ve been flaring and generally having a hard time with my illness.

While I’m working on trying to feel better (exercise, rest, and planning a change in medication), I still want to rouse myself to enjoy the season. This is a time of year when I enjoy listening to holiday music, watching TV specials, going to concerts, shopping for gifts, decorating our home, planning family visits, and enjoying delicious treats. Even though I don’t feel as well as I would like, I still want to celebrate the holiday and feel the good cheer.
Here’s some things I’m planning to do during the holidays that will help me enjoy the season while also taking care of my RA:

  • Take lots of breaks and naps. One thing I love to do (no matter the time of year) is take naps. My weekend naps are famously long and I intend to keep up the napping pace over the holidays. It can be a busy time of year, but taking breaks and getting plenty of rest will help me both with my RA and maintaining my energy.
  • Listen to my favorite holiday tunes. I may feel achy and tired from my RA, but I can still listen to holiday music! It’s magic—no matter how bad I may be feeling, some Christmas tunes always cheer me up and get me in the spirit for celebrating. I wait all year to pull out those albums and keep them playing on repeat. Even on a rough flare day, I can rest and enjoy some lovely music.
  • Plan fun, but also not too much activity. OK, so this can be hard to do. I have a habit of planning too much because I get over-excited about the holidays. I just feel the need to do all the things! But this year I’m being more proactive about my plans and limiting myself to one thing a week. I’m excited to go to holiday tea, a concert with my husband, and perhaps other small things. The big point is to have plenty of downtime so that I don’t wear myself out.
  • Do a little at a time. There’s a lot of things to get done during the holidays, but it’s important to pace ourselves. I try to do a little bit at a time—such as a little shopping, some time addressing cards, or some time wrapping gifts. It goes along with lots of breaks and rests. While it’s tempting to crash and do it all, I just can’t manage that with my energy and need to spread out tasks over a longer period of time. Plus, I get to enjoy the fun longer!
  • Let go and enjoy. There’s no such thing as a perfect holiday, so I ultimately just need to let go and enjoy. Whether it’s listening to Christmas music or enjoying quality time with friends and family, I just need to let go of trying to plan too much and enjoy the season. My RA will flare and get better in it’s own time, but I can enjoy myself no matter what.

If you enjoy the holiday season, remember to not let RA interfere with your celebrations. Take care of yourself, pace yourself, and indulge in the small and large joys that make the holidays a special time of year. It’s when you can enjoy time with your favorite people and count your blessings.

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