Guidelines or rules? How do you wish to live your life with rheumatoid arthritis (RA)?
With the diagnosis of a chronic illness such as RA, you may find that you have to change your expectations. RA is often mercurial in nature. One hour you may be dancing and prancing around your home, the next hour might see you rooted to your seat, afraid to move because it hurts so much. Days, weeks and months can go by when all is well, then suddenly something shifts and you're exhausted and in constant pain. During those times, it's difficult to observe those hard and fast rules you may be working so hard to live by.
Guidelines can ease your stress
Guidelines to the rescue! Guidelines give you breathing room for those times when RA gobbles up whatever drive and determination you might have had. Guidelines tend to be more flexible than rules. Flexibility is a necessary skill to cultivate if you have RA. Flexibility not only helps you live a more comfortable life, but it can also help lessen the stress of a chronic illness. For example, stress can be the result, if you must always do something, vis-à-vis your rule for entertaining, or hitting the gym, even though your body is crying out for a reprieve.
Pain, fatigue and the fact that you know in your heart that this isn't the time for that particular activity or event, can lead to an internal fight. The ensuing negative thoughts and emotions can disrupt the delicate balance of your autonomic nervous system (ANS), and catapult you into the stress response.
Stress is marked by inflammation. Inflammation will add more fire to an already "hot" situation. If you cut yourself some slack and develop good listening skills when it comes to your body, you develop an important self-care strategy. One of the keys to living well with a chronic condition is learning what is appropriate for you. Then make subtle and sustainable adjustments to how you live your life.
Check out Rewriting the RA Rulebook, where I share the guidelines I use to help me live the best life possible with a disease, which seems to have it's own set of rules.