Planning Recovery Time

My husband, Richard, and I had just returned home after a day-long car trip and almost a week out of town when I blithely suggested we go to the pool the next evening after returning to work. Thankfully Richard slammed the breaks. “I think you’ll need some recovery time, honey,” he explained gently. (I really love how he can correct a bad idea so diplomatically!)

RA recovery time after activities

As you can see, I have an issue with recovery time. In my case, I forget that I need it and then crash and burn Hindenburg-style with a major flare or fatigue overload.

When I’m being thoughtful, I make a plan for recovery time. Usually, after a trip I need a couple days at a slower pace so that I can get some extra rest. But if I’m really going to be better at integrating recovery time, it’s important for me to be much more thorough on reflecting when I need it.

Planned breaks

  • Exercising. Taking breaks during my exercise routines are important and I have planned them out pretty well. I have a couple routines either in the pool or at home with weights and a special stepper machine I can use from my wheelchair. During my sequence of exercises, I take brief breaks to not only catch my breath but also to assess how I am feeling. I want to be careful not to take too much time off and lose momentum, but I also want to track how my joints (and muscles) are doing and not hurt them.
  • Doing chores. I don’t do laundry anymore, but when I did it took me a whole day to do it. The process was so strenuous that I had to take breaks to recover. The lifting and moving of clothes between machines just became too exhausting to do myself so I eventually hired someone to do my laundry periodically (this was before I was married). It’s important for me to weigh the cost-benefit. Doing laundry knocked me out for a day, then the next day I was too exhausted to do anything but rest. Now I do chores that don’t vacuum up all my energy but still may require some breaks along the way. It’s a delicate balance and one that’s in constant revision.
  • Traveling. For me this is obvious that moving around will mean I need some recovery time. No matter the mode of travel (planes, trains, automobiles etc.) I need to plan some extra sleep or at least laying down to recoup my energy. I’m not great about doing it during a trip, but hoping that practice will help me perfect it! I’m better when I get home because I’m in my own zone and really feel the need to get my recovery time in.
  • Working. This is one area where I need to do better! For some reason, I have this habit of getting to my desk and zooming through my day pretty much constantly at work on my computer. I need to take more breaks—even to stretch and move my joints. I am working on being thoughtful about some leg movement and stretches to periodically get my bones going. But more focus is needed on incorporating refresh and recovery time during the workday.

What do you think about recovery time with rheumatoid arthritis? How do you plan for recovery?

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