Time for a Change
We have all heard about how certain events or changes in our lives can produce stress. Marriage, divorce, the death of a loved one, a new job, moving to a new location, retirement, a new baby, a sudden illness and the list goes on. All of these have one thing in common. They all involve a transition being made to our life, whether planned or not. When it comes to RA, the onset represents a massive and life-changing transition that we deal with for the rest of our lives. That in itself requires resolve, acceptance, courage and determination.
When it comes to the other types of transitions, we need to understand that underlying all of them, is the reality of a chronic disease. That means that transitions need to be managed and dealt with through the prism of RA. I am retiring this year and that has been a massive transition for me to plan for, which I am doing each and every day. I have found it necessary to remind myself that RA needs to be factored into the plans and tasks associated with retiring. For instance, as I clean out my office after nearly a quarter of a century, I am amazed at what I have amassed! As tempting as it is to let the task of emptying it out wait, I know full well, that my RA will be a lot happier if I start early with this task and do a little at a time. So I have actually mapped out on a calendar as to how I will deal with the tasks, both physical and mental, of my retirement.
Managing transition is not just about the emotional stress, which is well documented, but also the physical manifestation of change. Again, RA is influenced by stress and so it must remain in the forefront of how you plan to chart your course of change. We will be moving at some point once my husband retires, so selling our home will be a monumental task that keeps me awake at night as I contemplate the physical demands of getting our house ready to sell. Never mind the emotional impact of leaving the home that we raised our three sons in and have lived in for 30+ years. That just adds to the stress. Again, the best way for me to cope with this, is to break down the tasks into more manageable pieces, both physical and mental.
That works great for the events or transitions that we can anticipate but what about the ones we cannot? Well, even though they may hit us suddenly, the basic concepts of planning and taking it a piece at a time remain useful strategies. Think back to when you found out about your RA. That piece of news, that sudden change, was a major stressor. For me, once the shock wore off, I decided I needed to “break down” this disease into pieces so I could best figure out how to live with it! What did this mean to my life on a day to day basis, and then what did mean long term? What types of treatments are available? Who will make up my Care Team and how does that selection happen? And on and on until all the pieces fit together into my RA Management Plan.
Here is a good example. If I look at a chaotic and messy closet in my home as one big job, I quickly become overwhelmed and anxious. But If I can look at one section of one shelf and tackle that, I am much more calm and likely to get started, working on one area at a time. Well, so it is with handling transitions.
Finding a way to manage change one piece at a time will serve you well and can be done despite coping with a chronic disease. In fact, the skills you have developed in managing RA can make you realize that sometimes it truly is time for a change.
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