How slow can you go?
I have learned through the years of association and friendship with others with Rheumatoid Arthritis that many of us were used to living in the "fast lane" pre-RA. By that I mean we were the type of people that enjoyed moving through life at a fairly brisk pace. I have even asked myself if there is a connection. Not sure what that would be but it is a curiosity nonetheless. Folks like that are often referred to in the vernacular as Type A. At any rate, I mention this pace because clearly once RA hits us we are necessarily going to have to adjust the speed with which we move and function. Gone are the days when I can literally run from one task to the next, one place to the next, one event to the next.
So, how do we make that adjustment? Slowly. I did not eagerly embrace this new modus operandi. I was quite accustomed to going at breakneck speed and I loved it! RA meant being much more deliberate and purposeful. I realized (eventually mind you) that the more efficient I was with my movements and pace the better I felt and the less likely I was to flare.
This was, of course, not a lesson learned quickly. There were, and truth be told still are, times when my old habits of moving at the speed of light were employed. Often it was because I felt fine and could not comprehend that moving too fast would jeopardize that. One of those naggingly reoccurring annoyances of RA is centered around the idea that what you do or overdo today, even if you feel great, may manifest tomorrow in the form of pain and flaring. So once I assimilated that, and I still struggle with it to this day, I began to see the wisdom of slowing down.
I started to be more efficient in my movements and task choices. For instance, in the pre-RA days if in any given moment I needed to go upstairs I would simply run up them without a thought. In fact I believe it kept me in shape. Nowadays I try to consolidate my trips upstairs. I have a "gathering place" on the first floor where I put items that need to go upstairs. I try to limit my trips. The same goes for shopping. In the past I would jump in the car at the drop of a hat and go to whatever store I needed to without any thought of whether it made sense or if I might need to go back later in the day. Now I try to make lists and make fewer trips.
Not only do these strategies help with RA from a physical standpoint but, frankly, they help psychologically as well. I used to thrive on racing around and operating "by the seat of my pants" at time. That can be stressful, however, when you have a lot on your plate OR have a chronic disease like RA to manage! I have found that planning is an important key to developing our own personal pace and the benefits are enormous. I can actually get more done than before because now I am doing it with greater efficiency and forethought.
So despite my reluctance to make yet another change due to RA this one pays off and in fact makes your life easier all the way around. Who said RA does not give us some "gifts"?
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