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What to do When you Feel Good

What to Do when You Feel Good

I know. That headline sounds nuts. Who needs to know what to do when she feels good? What can’t you do when you feel good? When you have rheumatoid disease, isn’t feeling good the whole point?

Well, yes, to a degree. When you live with the daily challenges RD imposes—joint stiffness and pain, fatigue, malaise, brain fog—feeling physically good is a dream that seems like it will never come true. The mental and emotional toll of these physical symptoms is often equally as difficult. Having that toll lifted … Well. In your dreams.

How a good day starts

Getting a good night’s rest

But then, one day out of the blue, it happens. You get up in the morning having slept all night. That alone is huge. It feels like you’ve had a whole lifetime of nights during which you tossed, turned, stared at the ceiling, contemplated your pain in intimate detail, and wished for morning to just hurry up, already. Yet here you are: awake at 6 a.m. after a full night of soft, restful, memory-free, rejuvenating, delicious sleep.

Minimal pain and no brain fog

When you get up, you do it without hissing through your teeth as the first knifing joint pain of the day occurs. There are no knives. Every one of your joints moves as if recently cleaned to gleaming and oiled liberally. As you walk to the kitchen (not limp, shuffle, or stump, like usual), you notice that your mind is as clean and clear as a late spring sky. There’s no mist. No dampening fog. A smile twitches the corners of your mouth.

No nausea and a normal body temperature

As you drink your coffee, you notice that along with the absence of stiffness and pain, there’s no dull nausea lurking in the corners, waiting to bog you down. Your body temperature—you can tell—is a normal 98.6, not 99.5 or 100.2. How … utterly … delightful!

What stops us embracing a “good” day

Worried about impending pain

And here’s where you hit the first speed bump. You’re feeling great, but instead of reacting like someone who doesn’t have RD and joyfully dancing out the door to meet the day, you stay where you are. You can’t quite believe it, after all. You just know the pain is out there waiting to trip you up. The malaise and brain fog, who often travel in tandem, are just around the corner with nefarious plans to bog you down, make you feel sickly and slow just when you need to be your sharpest. And the fatigue—you just know it’ll hit the moment you get busy, taking the wind out of your sails.

Might as well pipe down, right? What’s the use? You have RD. You might be feeling good right now, but give it time. Curling up like a hedgehog might be safer, after all.

We refuse our “good” day

We all have moments like this. Instead of celebrating a “good” day, we hunker down. Instead of taking the day one moment at a time—living in the present—we examine it for flaws, reinforcing our defenses against the return of misery. Instead of enjoying our “good” day, we refuse it.

How to take advantage of the good days

So here I finally get back to my headline: What to do when you feel good.

Be present

First, try mindfulness trick No. 1: Live in the present. The past is totally unchangeable. The future hasn’t happened yet, and you have little control over it. What you have control over is right now.

So, pay attention to it. Focus on Right Now. Enjoy feeling well. Enjoy how easily you’re moving. Take pleasure in your unexpected energy. Don’t wait for it to fade or for the pain to start again. Live in the moment and be grateful for its gifts.

Here’s something I finally figured out, too: Mindfulness Trick No. 1 is the only one you’ll ever need. It’ll allow you to fly on the good days and live gently and without fear or guilt on the bad ones. Living in the present moment will make knowing what to do, no matter how you feel physically, intuitive. Does this sound New Age-y? Yep. But close to 30 years of practice have made me a believer.

Will you give it a try? Let me know how it goes!

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The RheumatoidArthritis.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

  • KerryW
    2 years ago

    Whenever I have a good day, I tend to do way too much and pay the price for the next few days. Good days don’t come often enough so I think us RA’ers always do WAY TO MUCH on a good day.

  • Richard Faust moderator
    2 years ago

    Thanks for writing KerryW. There certainly is much truth to what you say about RA’ers doing to much. In fact, in this article one of our contributors asks whether or not autoimmune conditions target go-getters: https://rheumatoidarthritis.net/living/target-the-go-getters/. Wishing you many more of the good days. Richard (RheumatoidArthritis.net Team)

  • KarenG.
    2 years ago

    On a good day, I try to get a lot of chores done that I normally would have trouble doing – laundry, vacuuming, dusting. On an extremely good day, the car gets washed…. If the opportunity comes up to go fishing, forget the chores! I’ll be at the river!

  • Wren moderator author
    2 years ago

    Hi, KarenG!
    Isn’t it great when we’re feeling well enough to not only take care of daily chores, but also be able to get out to do the things we love!
    I hope you get to do a lot of fishing this spring and summer! Be well! Thanks for commenting! 🙂

  • Richard Faust moderator
    2 years ago

    Thanks for writing KarenG. Glad to hear that you are not using your good days just for chores. The key for many is finding the balance – how not too push too hard/far on the good days and pay the piper for the next week. In this article one of our contributors talks about rallying and then taking down time to try to find the balance:

    https://rheumatoidarthritis.net/living/rally-around-ra/

    Of course, this may be easier said than done … and if the fish are biting 🙂

    Best, Richard (RheumatoidArthritis.net Team)

  • sharoncookie57
    3 years ago

    I got up this morning and felt good. Some pain but not enough to ruin this day. Off I went to the store’s that I love, went to see the twin G granddaughters. I was in a lot of pain going to my car at the end but with my cane I made it. Love these days and always do some I like on them. What fun.

  • Wren moderator author
    2 years ago

    Hi, sharoncooke57!
    What a wonderful way to spend your day! I’m so glad you were able to get out and see your granddaughters and shop, using that trusty cane as a tool. What a terrific example of living in the present and finding your joy.
    Thanks so much for taking the time to share your experience with us. Best wishes for more days just like it. 🙂

  • Piplover
    3 years ago

    I did yard work a few weeks ago. I felt energetic and pain free, and I wanted to tackle those weeds while I could! I even skipped church in order to fully embrace it, and then planted a garden. It was wonderful, and I kept telling myself to enjoy it while it lasted. This weekend I spent on the couch, curled up with tea while I nursed aching joints. But I’m looking forward to my next day of feeling good.

  • Wren moderator author
    2 years ago

    Hi, Piplover,
    What a lovely way to spend a day–outdoors, doing something you love. You planted a garden! I’m so glad it was such a good time for you, and it sounds like you also took the time you needed to recover.
    I hope your next “feel good” day came soon–and that you’ve had many more since. Thanks for sharing your experience. Please stop by again soon and let us know how you–and your garden–are doing. 🙂

  • HannahJoy
    3 years ago

    Live for today. Life is too short. If I have to pay for it tomorrow so be it.

  • Wren moderator author
    2 years ago

    Hi, HannahJoy,
    Yep–you’ve got it down. Thanks for commenting. I hope that your tomorrow is a delight! 🙂

  • Lawrence 'rick' Phillips moderator
    3 years ago

    When I feel good? I ride my bicycle with reckless abandon or around the neighborhood, whichever comes first. Ok around the neighborhood always comes first. I do not know if that is mindlessness or mindfulness. We have different opinions about that at my house.

  • Wren moderator author
    2 years ago

    Hi, Lucy Piper!
    I love your attitude! What a concept: living in the present IS a present! That’s just perfect!
    Thanks so much for taking the time to share your thoughts with us. I’m so glad you liked the article.
    Be well! 🙂

  • Wren moderator author
    2 years ago

    Hi, Rick,
    Oh, you always make me laugh! Yes, I guess mindfulness and mindlessness can be mixed up, but both can be a real source of peace and joy. I’m delighted that you ride, with abandon, around the neighborhood. I can just see your smile!
    Thanks for commenting, Rick. Wishing you well, as always. 🙂

  • Lucy Piper
    2 years ago

    Live in a present is so important for me, I try to remind myself about it constantly. …Yesterday was a history, tomorrow is a mystery and today is a present, that is why it called a “Present”! Great article.

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