My 5 Things For a Better Day

I’ve changed so much during my 20 years with spondyloarthritis that my 24-year-old self probably wouldn’t know me. She lived a life mostly in denial of her disability. That Dawn pushed herself to the brink of exhaustion nearly every day, only to collapse into bed and pry herself out in the morning to do it all over again.

Our world is sloshing with big opinionated takes on small things folks should do to live their best lives. Tips, tricks, and life hacks are good, so far as they go, but there’s no substitute for acceptance and the deep personal power that flows from it. I know this for sure. These days, my life is more stable and happier than it's ever been.

Here are 5 things that help me have better days with spondyloarthritis.

Journaling keeps me present to myself

Journals aren’t alchemy. They don’t turn aluminum habits into platinum, but they can help us understand what’s happening in our lives. This understanding is the foundation for the crucial changes or continued sustaining practices. The main sections of my minimalist bullet journal binder are the future log, monthly calendars, weekly goals and commitments, and daily lists. This light structure helps keep me proactive and realistic about what I'm doing.

Knowing the shape of my day

For me, a good day goes full circle. I begin and end my day with a quiet spiritual practice. The specific details probably don't matter much, but the commitment to this quiet time of reflection helps keep me grounded and in touch with my purpose and core values. It also creates some separation between my mood and all the things that I did or didn’t get done.

Other ways to get similar results:

  • Theme songs for energizing or powering down.
  • Read poetry or other literature quietly to yourself.
  • Burn one small candle all the way down. Birthday candles are great for this exercise.
  • Light several candles, let them burn for a few minutes, and then extinguish them one by one, pausing between each one.

Meal Prep

Eating a lower-carb diet free of gluten and corn, which is what works for me, can’t happen without structure. I don't eat fussy or elaborate meals, but my food requires planning and execution. I try to limit cooking to 2 days each week. My prep includes budgeting, shopping lists, and plans for preparation, storage, and consumption.

Paying into my wellness early in the day

Once I’m ready to get going I make up our plates for lunch and dinner, and get them back into the fridge. This prevents my scrambling to find something to eat or losing touch with our supplies. It feels good knowing it’s handled!

I’m reluctant to say that anything good came out of the pandemic, but the shift to telemeetings helped me reconnect with important friends and peers. Attending regular meetings with like-minded creatives has brought a new focus and purpose to my life. I also participate in several regular text check-ins and group chats to keep me steady.

What helps you?

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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