Winter is here! And so is the Pain…

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Just talked with my mum last night and yes! my family now has our plans firmed up. We now know “who” will be “where” this Christmas.
As per the norm… we’ll be off to Victoria to hang out with family and friends:)  But, this year we’ll also be hosting a Xmas dinner at our house (the weekend before). 

I already want to throw everything out of the house so we’ll all fit.

I do that anyways at Xmas, just clear everything out!  I have to fit in the Christmas tree, the candles and all the cozy warm blankets;  not to mention the lights and decorations too.  Any extra piece of furniture gets relegated to the garage…  My neighbours think I’m crazy as I cart it all outside! I’m gaining control! CONTROL CONTROL, never mind my kids will all be hoarders to compensate for their mother!

So, Winter is here and with the change in season comes my pain.  I don’t know of it’s just the weather but it’s definitely cyclical.  With all the hustle and bustle of the holidays approaching, the functions and social engagements starting… take a moment for yourself and BREATHE! It’s only November.

Distraction, pick one goal towards healthier living and reach it! It won’t make your illness disappear, but might help you keep moving forward (always better than consistently backwards!) 

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BREATHE FRESH AIR if possible, get outside every day! Oxygenate, rejuvenate and strengthen your mind.  Its the mind that determines how we interpret our pain and there are two processes it will use. The first will determine where the pain is, how intense, and what type (ie ): is it sharp, drilling, burning or an ‘un relentless’ ache.

The second will determine the emotion that goes along with it.  It gives us an idea how we’ll cope. “Owwww! that bloody well hurts”, “I can’t do this, how long is this going to last, I’m scared, is it truly this horrible for everyone?”.

The good thing is… research shows our pain is minimized with positive feelings — like when our tanks and minds are full of connectedness and belonging; and we are feeling content, brave and supported.  But, negative feelings will have the opposite effect. I’m so sick, I’m ill, this isn’t getting any better, nobody understands and now all I can think about is the other shit that can go down! Yes it really, suck’s!

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DISTRACTION insert Nature every day, you will be surprised how it helps you keep your life together, just stops it from falling apart.  The change in environment from indoors to out is better than a rest.  We’ve all heard the stories of adrenalin fuelled happenings where someone is injured and they don’t recognize the pain of injury at the time.  It’s not until later, when the distraction has passed that the pain hits.  Utilize this!  there are other things to focus on besides our disease.  Maybe even “forget about it” for a while.  That would be toooooo nice!

Give yourself a cognitive break by walking amongst the trees, head down to the water, or just take a stroll around the block. Take photographs while your out and about and view your life through a different lens. Improve your mental health and fill that empty tank.

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FOCUS ON BEING HEALTHIER  every day  you can reframe your life ( I dislike that word) it sometimes sounds so disingenuous.   Our life is not all about being sick and needing other people to understand.  Give YOURSELF the control, not them. Take charge! Take a moment to think about what being healthy means to YOU.  I decided I needed to actually eat my recommended daily allowance of fruit and vegetables each day. Not just think about it, or buy it and put it in my fridge! My goal was to eat three different servings of veggies at dinner.  I can tell you… I had to concentrate and plan for that one.  But, it was a simple goal to meet and I did it.   This month I will be striving to add 2 vegan dinners to our weekly meal plan.  For me this goal is two-fold:  it will save us money on meat but ultimately lessen my stress. That adds up to more health for me 🙂

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SHUT OFF THE DEVICES,  ESCAPE! we’re all guilty of it, its easy to get caught up in the ‘busyness’  that is our lives.  That’s how we roll!  Do not take your phone to bed with you, charge it in the kitchen or any other room overnight.  FB, Instagram and the rest of your social media can wait until morning.  Stay off the support forums tonight, the last thoughts before sleep should NOT be focused on your illness. That just ain’t beneficial.

Research spouts about our kids and the negative impact of screens daily, this applies to us too.  We all stare at screens too long!  I just had to get up from my chair and lay on the couch because my butt was killing me! Screens are sedentary.

Once you’ve achieved the first step of withdrawal, you may choose to make lunchtime a screen free break too.   For us addicts we’d still have coffee time to stay connected.

FIND A NEW INTEREST,  LEARN SOMETHING    perhaps photography, while exploring outside and taking photos.  Whether you are walking around the block in your local neighbourhood or the ‘hood’ that surrounds your work;  hone your skills at picture taking.  Learn everything you can about it.  Find something new that interests you (not just for the sake of it, that won’t last a minute).  Start a wellness blog, learn to be a chef extraordinaire, garden and grow all your own food or maybe you’ll only be able to add a few carrots from your garden to dinner like me!  Learn all the local hikes you haven’t discovered. Reduce your carbon footprint. Research the ins and out of grounding.

But, you can’t choose learning more about your disease 🙂  we do that… enough already!

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Our bodies and minds want to be healthier give it a chance, and pick one!

I’m interested to hear and share what you’ve come up with, let me know in the comments so everyone can benefit 🙂

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GAWD I hurt! REST or ACTIVITY?

I should be sleeping, at least resting!  But, I’m just laying in bed with good intentions… well I had intentions anyways. 

My feet were sore, and really cold so I got up and found some warm socks. I’ve put them on, and now my feet feel goooood!  The tightness of the socks taking away some of the ache.  Sometimes the weight or resistance of something like a scarf around my neck feels like too much weight and pressure and makes the ache worse.   Sometimes you’re lucky and stumble on something that works like the socks.  Sometimes someone like me will tell you the things they’ve discovered.  Just go with it…

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There is no one thing that helps. 

This nap was supposed to help me make it into work this afternoon.  Going to work is really not a choice thing, I have to go.  But, the rest would have helped.

We must be gentle on ourselves

… my latest BS phrase hah! But seriously it’s how I get through this disease, that along with a good dose of denial.  Give yourself permission to rest,  it may feel unproductive to some… but it will actually allow you to be more productive when you get up.

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My problem is guilt. 

“I have things to do”, “I need to earn my place and be a part of this family” , “I need to be the woman my husband married” are just some of those super helpful thoughts running through my head.  And the big one… remembering I almost broke up my marriage pre diagnosis because I was sleeping all day and all night. Only getting up to get the kids out of bed, feed them, make their lunches and drive them to school.  I’d come home,  crawl back into bed…  only to drag myself up again with enough time to tidy the house, go grab the kids, help them with their activities, make dinner, get them to bed and then crawl right back into bed for the night. I had nothing left, nothing for my husband, nothing for my kids, and nothing for myself.  Guilt,  I didn’t feel I was  the woman my husband married.  Mourning, I wasn’t the woman I thought I would be. This was the overwhelming fatigue of Rheumatoid disease.

So, REST or ACTIVITY with pain...

RESEARCH SHOWS THE ANSWER IS BOTH:   REST EACH DAY  and  MOVE EACH DAY

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  1. REST,  give yourself permission, or just say I gave it to you.

Figure out how to make peace with your demons and REST.  Take a nap. It’s always a teeter trotter… you have to balance and lose balance sometimes to find focus again .

Yes, today I’m skipping my rest, it’s Friday and I can hear my oldest up in the kitchen having breakfast getting himself ready,  I creak and groan (that’s my usual getting up noises).   A cup of coffee with him will be my break.  After… I will force myself to move for 10 min with a stretch video.

My motivating force behind doing this, the regret and guilt I feel if I don’t.   Not to mention how cranky, stiff and sore I’ll be. 

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2. MOVE, Just do it.

The movement may only be sitting in a chair lifting your legs up and down, You must decide what you can do that day.  No one else can tell you.  Somedays I can’t even sit in a chair, but somedays are better and I can walk or hike.

  1. Can help fix range of motion problems and maintain your range of motion
  2.  Keeps you joints flexible.
  3.  Will strengthen you joints and reduce PAIN. 
  4.  Will keep your muscles strong and support weak joints.  This relieves the weight and pressure on them. 
  5. Inactivity leads to a sedentary lifestyle.  A sedentary lifestyle leads to more symptoms, pain and further disability.  It also contributes to other risk factors (ie): cardiovascular disease.
  6.  Regulates inflammation. Some trials show decrease in inflammatory markers.
  7. Decreases disease activity scores
  8. Improve patient’s feelings of well being
  9.  Helps with maintaining and losing weight. Therefore reduces symptoms.
  10. Overweight people with RA put much more pressure on their joints
  11.  Distraction, there’s a phenomena of increased pain when we have no distraction
  12.  Feel good release of endorphins

There’s no reason not to do it. 

NO,  I don’t always follow my own advice, but I know there are people out there with stronger will power than me, mine’s horrid.  Besides, this isn’t just my opinion; research proves it to be true,  you have to do both. 

Click like or share and give more people a chance at succeeding!

Specific resources I use:

If I’m too sore to nap there’s a FREE app I use to practice mindfulness and meditation my headspace. 

 (my favorite) stretch video! LOVE 😍!! 

RA and Exercise

I’ve been on a roll, August brought warmer weather and vacation time off work.  Two things that seem to leave me feeling better, physically and mentally.  The pain was less and the fatigue wasn’t as overwhelming.  Cumulatively I had more time and energy. Yes!  I felt well enough to start hiking.

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I know (in my head at least)   I feel better when I get outside. I used to run, 7 days a week 1-2 hours at a time and I’m still mourning that loss.  You’d think I’d be over it by now it’s been a few years ( 10 and counting).

It’s been working out so far, I’ve been hiking for almost 2 months.   But now the weather is changing, my holidays have finished and the extra energy I had to hike is fading.  How am I going to keep this up!!!

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Whether you're scrambling for the holidays, waiting on test results, or suffering from the seasonal blues – it's safe to say we all experience anxiousness in some form or another. In times of chaos, the last thing we want to  invest our time in is worrying about the past or future. In order to keep moving forward we need to be calm, focused, and present. . . . You don’t have to go to the gym to get the blood flowing. Practice an online yoga flow. Go for a run outdoors. Even a 10 minute walk or series of stretches will do wonders and is far better than doing nothing at all. . . . Whatever you do, in times of stress, worry, or doubt – just keep moving. You’ve got this! 👊🏼 . . . #winterblueswontgetmedown #SAD #anxiety #wellnesstips #movementismagic #moveyourbody #spirituallyfitgal #spirituallyfit #movementasmedicine #movementismedicine #loveyourbody #loveyourmind #wellnesswarriors #mindbodysoul #soulfulliving #yogaflow #mindfulliving #mindfullife #livenow #bepresent

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I’ve just turned the fireplace on, I’m cold and with the cold comes the ache. I’m heading to the kitchen to grab a couple of Tylenol it usually takes the edge off, I’m going to skip the NSAIDS as my stomach doesn’t feel like it can handle it today.  Once the Tylenol kicks in I will stretch and move GENTLY.  When I push a stretch or hold a position (as in Yoga) it actually makes things worse…

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The videos below are the ones I’ve had the most success with. I just choose the exercises that most appeal to my aches and pains that day and only do 8-10 minutes of those exercises.  Relaxing while I stretch at only 50-75% of the effort they are doing on screen.  It is in this way I am able to continue…  as my tendons and joints don’t like new things!! I truly believe it’s because I’ve started so gently with the movements, and at a very low level of effort that my body has allowed me to continue to work on my range of motion.  I do not bring my shoulders above my head as they instruct… I listen to my body and if it hurts I don’t do it! I want to be able to continue doing this exercising thing.

USE IT OR LOSE IT!

WAYS TO HELP YOU PERSEVERE! AND BE SUCCESSFUL WITH Starting ACTIVITY

1. Only 8-10  minutes to start

2 Performed at only 50-75% effort

3. Start slow, only every 2-3 days, hold yourself back!!

4. Don’t HOLD the stretch!  Gently move in and out of the movement while relaxing muscles.   Don’t push into any movement, no matter how good you think it feels.

5. You are just moving your body, increasing your range of motion.

6. Listen to your body, you want to continue doing this for life, not just today.  Don’t raise your arms over your head if it hurts.  If you can only bring them to your waist don’t move past that.  Don’t extend your arms straight if they feel better bent.  You will improve faster if you don’t push and go to the point of pain.  That is counter productive and you won’t be able to continue.

In the past I’d been thwarted at every turn!   But this mixture of tai chi, qi gong, and movement stretching ( not holding the stretch) has allowed my body to work again! It wasn’t until the end of the month I started increasing my  8-10 minutes. Essentrics Pain-Relief Workouts
Classical Stretch – Age Reversing Workouts for Beginners: Mobility & Bone Strengthening

These videos increased my range and strength and have allowed me my longest run of activity (hiking) injury free.  Now I have to adapt to the new fatigue with the change of season etc.  Do you want to hear more ways to cope and even thrive just click the”follow” button only 2-3 emails a month I promise! Next post Restless Legs and sleep!