As I mentioned in My Story: Accepting, Adapting, Adopting, I have learned that when you can come to terms with the emotional pain that accompanies RA, you have a much better chance of dealing with the physical pain. To that end, I have a toolbox of strategies that I use on a daily basis that help me live as well as possible. It's definitely worth the time and effort.
Before the day takes on a rhythm of its own, I engage in a 5 minute activity that I borrowed from the pages of sports psychology. Over the course of my life, I enjoyed competitive swimming, windsurfing, cross-country and downhill skiing, racquetball, cycling and hiking.
For this activity, I imagine that I'm going to do one of those activities. In my mind, I determine the location, the temperature and even how I'm dressed for that activity. Then, I recall the muscle memory: what did I do in order to perform that activity? With as much emotion as possible, I experience myself traveling the distance, whether it be in or on the water, on a cross-country trail that winds through a winter wonderland or beneath sun-dappled trees. I activate as many senses as possible – the wind as it rosies my cheeks when I zoom across the water, the smell of freshly fallen snow, the sound of bicycle tires on pavement, or that feeling of accomplishment of effortlessly and quickly “crawling” across the surface of the water.
Wondering about Using Sports Psychology to Live Better with RA? Click the link that will take you to my latest post on HealthCentral.com. I take you through a step by step example of how you can use this technique to help with some of the mobility challenges you encounter with RA.
To read my other articles, please see HealthCentral.com Writing Gig.