My 4 Arthritis Self-Care Basics
Last updated: November 2023
Self-care makes up a substantial portion of our quality of life, but like good food, safe shelter, and a healthy environment it often gets less attention than our social life, career, and other more urgent daily tasks until glaring problems present themselves. I believe that a vague sense of our specific needs, crucial action items, and the steps to consistently manage things undermines our thriving as arthritis patients.
Proper self-care doesn’t just happen. It’s the result of the transmission of tangible and intangible resources, information, ideas, and attitudes from our elders, peers, community, and society.
A vague understanding of or commitment to fostering and protecting our wellbeing makes it difficult to implement helpful behaviors and limit unhelpful ones.
Here are my 4 arthritis self-care basics!
1. Sleep and rest always matter
I believe that future generations will roast this moment in history for our glorification of being busy, exhausted, and centering doing over being.
This is bad for everybody, but it’s excruciating for arthritis patients dealing with a baseline of low energy, pain, stiffness, and other limitations. No matter what the normies are doing, our people must build time for sleep and rest into our daily schedules. Our bodies are different and that’s not going to change.
2. Cultivate acceptance
The moment of our diagnosis sets us on a lifelong struggle with toxic cultural ableism and denial about what it means to have spondyloarthritis. We’re often encouraged to proclaim that it “won’t hold us back” and that “we shall overcome” an incurable progressive illness.
Keep in mind, the folks who cure this disease will likely win a Nobel Prize. Past winners were recognized for discovering fundamental aspects of physiology and medicine including sensation and touch, immunotherapy, life threatening viruses, and in vitro fertilization.
I believe that accepting our diagnosis and what it means for us is empowerment, just like stopping to ask for directions when we’re lost. Pretending we know where we are won’t get us where we want to be.
Boundaries are personal limits on how others are allowed to interact with us. Think of them like a fence drawn to protect what’s important to us, especially our peace.
4. Take a basic personal inventory
Some questions to consider...
- Do you center the opinions and desires of others over your wellbeing?
- Did you grow up without enough support from adults in your life?
- Were there gaps in your family’s lessons about how to take care of yourself?
- Was there a mismatch between the stated ideals around wellness and the actions of the adults in your life?
- Did your family spend a lot of time in struggle mode, just trying to meet basic needs and avoid calamity?
- Did you experience foster care, insecure housing, or the incarceration of a parent or someone close to you?
- Do you ever feel that other people must have some secret code to making their lives work so well?
If you answer yes to these questions you might want to consider seeking self-care guidance from a trusted coach, therapist, or peer.
Do you notice worsening flares in colder weather?