Archive for ‘Pain/Joint Relief’

June 17, 2019

#573 – Live Better with RA – Tip #8

Tip #8 – Use Tools and Gadgets

Tools and gadgets may seem extraneous, but to a person with RA, they are lifesavers! I use them constantly. Not only do they allow me to be independent, but they save my joints and often, my energy and frustration.

There are so many reasonably-priced tools and gadgets available today, unlike when I was first diagnosed over 40 years ago. “In the olden days,” as my niece would say, you’d have to visit an occupational therapist if you needed something specialized for your needs.

Look under the category “Tools,” to see the things I use, or have adapted to make my journey with RA easier.

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May 20, 2019

#572 – Live Better with RA – Tip #7

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Image courtesy of B S K.

Build Your Team

When you have RA, you may have a tendency to figuratively withdraw and move to an “island,” but don’t.

Your healthcare team is an important part of your journey with RA. Doctors, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, naturopaths, nutritionists, coaches, osteopaths, chiropractors, acupuncturists, therapists and friends all have a role in your health and well-being. You may not need them all, or you may need different ones at different times in your life.

Choose them with care.

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April 24, 2019

#569 – Live Better with RA – Tip #5

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Image courtesy of Samantha Mesones.

Tip #5 – Laugh and/or Smile

I was recently reminded about the healing power of laughter. I had injured myself doing some leg exercises with weights, which were too heavy. (It’s a reminder that I’m more delicate than I think I am!) One evening, I watched a number of YouTube videos featuring this great observational comic, whom I found to be laugh-out-loud funny. The next day, I felt significantly better. Coincidence? Maybe. Maybe not. Find what tickles your funny bone and indulge.

The Power Behind a Smile

So, you haven’t had a good laugh in awhile. Try on a smile for a boost of happiness. On page 37 in Connected – How Your Friends’ Friends’ Friends Affect Everything You Feel, Think, and Do, the authors explain:

If your friend feels happy, she smiles, you smile, and in the act of smiling you also come to feel happy. In bars and bedrooms, at work and on the street, everywhere people interact, we tend to synchronize our facial expressions, vocalizations , and postures unconsciously and rapidly, and as a result we also meld our emotional states.”

Even if you don’t feel happy, there’s value in turning that frown upside down. A study in the Association for Psychological Science shows that smiling, whether it be a Duchenne smile (the muscles surrounding both the mouth and eyes are engaged), or a standard smile, can help to reduce the body’s stress response:

The results of the study suggest that smiling may actually influence our physical state: compared to participants who held neutral facial expressions, participants who were instructed to smile, and in particular those with Duchenne smiles, had lower heart rate levels after recovery from the stressful activities.”

It can be hard to smile and laugh when you are enveloped in a red-hot flare, when sleep is elusive and the worries accumulate faster than ants on your picnic table. You want to  break the cycle, so you have to start somewhere. A smile, even faked, can be of value. Combine it with a lot of the other strategies you’ll find on this blog and that faked smile may just become real.

Do it for the health of it!

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April 3, 2019

#568 – Live Better with RA – Tip #4

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Image courtesy of Gail Rau.

Tip #4 – Improve Your Sleep Hygiene

Relentless flares, disease-related anxieties, family issues, bills, noise, frustrations — just a sampling of the things that can keep you up at night. A lack of sleep can create a snowball of increasing sleeplessness, wreaking havoc on your RA. With a few important but relatively small changes, you can learn to cultivate good sleep habits, which may lead to a better night’s sleep.

Yeah, but How Do You Do That, Exactly?

  1. Transform your stress on a regular basis.
  2. Experiment to discover the time by which you should stop eating and using your electronic devices. Too close to bedtime and you might be too wired to sleep.
  3. Limit alcohol.
  4. Make your bedroom an electronics nogozone.
  5. Find the right bedding. For example, I prefer feather pillows, a down duvet and definitely not a soft comfort (Yeah, right!) mattress.
  6. Your bedroom ambience. For me: a cool, dark room is a must.
  7. Don’t count sheep, but instead, list all the things for which you are grateful.
  8. Practice cognitive shuffling: Choose a 5/6 letter word, such as “dream.” Now list as many words that you can think of for d, then r, and so on.
  9. Perhaps you have sleep apnea? Get tested.
  10. Support your jaw.
  11. Do you have painsomnia? Onboard strategies to help you manage your pain. See #1.
  12. Reset your sleep clock. Sometimes you’re simply going to bed too early. Stay up later and find your ideal bedtime.
  13. Medication can interfere with sleep. Talk with your doctor and pharmacist to discover solutions and options.
  14. Hormones may impact your sleep. Talk to your doctor about getting tested.
  15. Your sleep hygiene routine may include a nap on the couch.
  16. Exercise – but at the right time for you. For example, I know if I exercise in the evening, I’m too wired to sleep.
  17. Your turn: Please share what helps you fall asleep and stay asleep.

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