During this time of year, colds, flu’s and all sort of nasty bugs are roaming around. So, what are you to do to when you’re recovering from one but can’t take your medication? Well, I’m here to share my wonderful tips!
Move more every day. Lack of activity makes my joints more stiff and painful. Therefore my flares can become more intense. However, you don’t need to go out and start running in order to “move”. Stretching in front of the TV or walking to the mailbox are examples of easy exercises you can do. The most important thing to keep in mind when exercising with a chronic illness: Listen to your body!
Learn how to manage your stress. This is something I’m constantly working on. Last Saturday, I wanted to have the house 100 percent clean which included all of the dusting, vacuuming, dusting, laundry, and dishes. I did it, but paid the price for my accomplishment because I was 10 days behind my Remicade Infusion. Mr. P immediately drew a bubble bath and played playlist called “a relaxing night” from Songza.com while I relaxed.
Here are some additional ideas on how to manage your stress:
- do yoga, including meditation and deep breathing. DoYogaWithMe.com is FREE and has some great videos which you can customize to your “flare” level.
- schedule a gentle massage. For me, I called Massage Envy immediately after canceling my infusion appointment so I could reap the benefits.
- Take a long, warm bath.
- Read. There’s nothing like escaping from your reality through a good book!
Know what food triggers your flare-ups or increase in pain. If you’re not tracking your food through a food diary like MyFitnessPal, I highly suggest you do. You’ll become more aware of what you’re eating and start to see patterns. Keeping “minimalism” in mind, stay away from processed foods like those frozen dinners, ice cream, chips, and cookies. Although they’re very easy to grab and go, check the nutrition label to see how many ingredients are included, as well as, if there are any ingredients you can’t pronounce. If there are usually more than 7 ingredients and/or include ingredients I can’t pronounce, I don’t buy it or eat it.
With that in mind, know what foods help you fight flare-ups. I know a ton of chronically ill patients who strongly believe in the Paleo Diet or going Gluten-Free. For me, I know that lean proteins, whole grains, foods that contain Vitamin D like fresh milk from the dairy, and consuming a ton of fruits and veggies help ease my arthritis flares and help keep them far, far away. Which is why I’m such a strong advocate for green smoothies. Here’s a great website to help get you started. Find out what works for you and stick with it strictly during a flare-up.
Rest and Sleep. This is sometimes easier said than done and can feel like you’re stuck in a catch-22. You can’t sleep because you’re in so much pain, but you can’t get over your pain unless you sleep. I think if you can’t sleep, definitely try to rest. This can include meditation, reading that good book, playing board games (something like scrabble or checkers), or even a TV binge session. A few of my favorite TV binge shows are: Downton Abbey, Orange is the New Black, Scorpion (brand new, just finished the first half of the season and LOVE IT), Scandal, The Good Wife, and Once Upon a Time. I sometimes like to schedule a day like this once a month to force myself to rest, especially if there been a consecutive amount of activities in the weeks prior.
How do you cope without your medication? Next time, I’ll talk about what products I use.