Lately, I have noticed a burning desire to just step away from everything RA. The question is: How do I take this timeout and will it affect my ability to manage RA?
I believe by answering the first question, we will get the answer to the second. So, let’s start with how to step away. I think there are several ways to accomplish this. First of all, if we start to develop other things to occupy our body and mind, we can learn to put RA on the back burner, even if it is only for a short time. A break of any sort, long or short, is beneficial.
Taking advantage of the good times
I learned over the years to use exercise as a tool to step away. Now what that exercise entailed was often directly related to my disease activity and still is. When I was doing well and my RA was not as intense, I could go for longer walks, practice my Tai Chi, swim longer and more vigorously, etc. When I was flaring, I cut back and made my workouts much more mild and less intense.
The good thing about this was that by taking advantage of the good patches, it would keep me in good spirits during the bad patches. It was almost like I was “banking” good times to get me through the bad ones. Knowing that, eventually, I could get back to the level of exercise I enjoyed helped to keep me from falling into despair during flares.
Other timeout activities
The same is true for other types of timeout activities. One of my favorite activities is reading. It provides me with wonderful diversion and occupies my mind so completely that I can forget all about RA while I immerse myself in a great book. Meditation does the same. By practicing meditation on a daily basis, I can relieve stress and worry, so often a part of RA.
Pampering ourselves in other ways can also give us some much-needed relief from the day to day stress of RA. I find massage and other spa activities to be very beneficial. They are often just what I need to provide me with that timeout I seek.
Of course, simple things like going for a nice ride through some scenic areas, watching a wonderful movie, or spending time with family and friends can be great forms of “timeout” as well.
These timeouts may help us better manage our RA
So, now the answer to the second question is apparent. I believe that by taking these simple yet significant “timeouts,” we will actually be better managers of our RA. Sometimes, the constant cacophony of RA-thoughts and worries inhibits our ability to manage the disease. When there is no break in the action, our minds become overwhelmed resulting in hindered, even poor decision-making.
Of course, a timeout does not mean stopping medications or treatments. That should never be done without careful and thoughtful discussions with our medical care teams. Can it mean that? Perhaps, but not without consulting your physicians to get their input and agreement. We all know that any type of sudden stoppage of our treatments can be extremely dangerous.
Timeout from the day-to-day chaos and worry of RA can be not only good for us, but may, in fact, enhance our ability to manage RA over time.
May marks Arthritis Awareness Month! What topic are you most excited to learn more about?