Let the sunshine in

Here in the northeast we really treasure our summers because they come and go far too quickly. And this past winter was an especially long and difficult one so that makes this summer an even more welcome respite!

I love the 4 seasons and would never be content to live anywhere that did not offer that climate. From the brisk fall days to the dog days of summer I embrace them all. Each time the seasons change I find myself getting re-energized and eager to see the landscape change as the days of each season unfold.

For some folks with RA (and many with osteoarthritis) weather can be a factor in our flaring. I know many people who swear their flares are directly related to weather shifts. I have not personally found specific weather patterns to blame but I am more comfortable in the cooler temperatures than the warm and humid ones. Which is actually funny because when I am flaring I love heat....any heat...in any form...applied directly on the joint...whether by ointment, heating pad, hot tub, etc., it cannot be hot enough. Yet, climate wise the colder the better....go figure!

Many folks prefer cold applications when their joints are flaring so my advice is try them both and see what works best for you. It may even be that some times heat is best and yet on another occasion cold does the trick. Once again the uncertainty of RA strikes!

To make a simple yet effective homemade heating pad get some rice and a soft sock, put the rice in the sock and microwave for about 30 seconds or until it is hot and toasty. Apply it to the joint and enjoy! I love these and use them all the time. The nice thing is that the socks are soft and pliable so you can wrap them around your wrist, neck, knee, shoulder, hand, etc. and they feel wonderful!

Getting back to letting the sun in, not only is the warmth and gentle temperature delightful but the vitamin D in sunshine is crucial for the absorption and metabolism of calcium and phosphorous, which have various functions, especially the maintenance of healthy bones. In addition, vitamin D is an immune system regulator. All of these vitamin D benefits are of real importance for those of us with RA!

Opening the doors and windows to let sun shine in to your home and work space also provides us with a sense of freedom that is tough to duplicate in any other way. Sitting in my office, windows open, listening to the sounds of the city outside gives me a sense of life and joy that I deeply and profoundly appreciate.

In the summer I have a screened in porch that is essentially our summer family room, giving us additional open space to enjoy the sights and sounds of summer! It totally changes my perspective for several months of the year and I know reinvigorates me to face the challenges of RA.

Of course my favorite place to be in the summer is on a beach...any beach anywhere....the sounds of the ocean, the breeze off the water, the sand between my toes and yes the amazing sunshine and blue skies are like weather therapy for me!

Sitting on the beach, with a great summer book, listening to the sea gulls, enjoying the bright sunshine, spending time with family or all alone I am transported to a place of peace and calm that I believe has a distinct impact on the level of RA discomfort I am feeling. Not sure why but it seems to work! Now if I could just find a way to be there 24/7 - 365 days of the year I would be good to go!

Finally, metaphorically, bringing sunshine into the lives of others will bring it to you too, making your life more joyous and wonderful every day!

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