Spondyloarthritis: Will and Motivation Toward Wellness

The 2020 holidays really affected me negatively, worse than years prior. Family at the house (albeit only 5 of us), over-spending, cooking larger meals, and ingesting sugar, salt, and alcohol - have all wore me down. I lost track of vital routines built into my daily schedule that provided stability for my continued health. This has resulted in overwhelming exhaustion and my well-being crumbled big time. Lack of work, sleep, nutritional and exercise habits had me suffering greatly.

Tasks put to the wayside

My energy levels plummeted and most of my normal tasks were put to the wayside. I fell into a cycle of no real meals and unhealthy snacking, which has me un-energized and unmotivated. Or, is it the unmotivated, un-energized me fell into a rut of not creating healthy nutritional meals. Either way, my brain feels like it lost its reasoning mode and is on automatic - telling me to "reach for the bag of chips" or "order delivery at 6 pm."

Fighting this lazy thinking, I bought recipe magazines at the grocery store. I have considered special eating plans such as AIP or deleting night-shades in my diet to combat my other illnesses that contribute to my pain and fatigue levels, such as mast cell activation syndrome (MCAS), asthma, and migraines. And, I am looking into healthy home delivery meals for the short-term, yet to find one that supports my special dietary needs. It's a process, but I really need to gain more energy, decrease pain, and lower the disease burden on this body.

Sabotaging behavior

Going nonstop last November and December, my sleep cycle suffered as well. I began going to bed later in the evening and rising later in the morning, with little to no giddy-up. Sleep procrastination kicked in. A "newly minted disorder", this cycle of detrimental late-night habits affects not only one’s ability to sleep but overall health and well-being. Described as a “self-sabotaging behavior” in a post by @thebraincoach (Canada) on Instagram in early February 2021, revenge bedtime procrastination is “intentionally delaying bedtime when one has minimal control over their daytime life as an attempt to regain some sense of freedom and claim back precious personal time late at night (despite knowing it is not good for them)." This cycle of sleep deprivation kept me exhausted daily. My emotional and mental demeanor deteriorated daily. I was off-kilter most of the time and would have breakdowns over the littlest of things.

Research completed by @thebraincoach revealed a 2014 study by Kroese, et al in which “they found that bedtime procrastination was associated with poor self-regulation (an executive functioning skill) and general procrastination … correlated with insufficient reports of sleep which is obvious but important  because disturbed sleep can lead to severe health problems.”1

I could feel the shift in my behavior. What was happening to me? I was grasping for control in an out-of-control situation. Ugh, holidays do that to me every single year. They make me topsy-turvy and emotionally unregulated. Have to love family drama. It was time to go back to some semblance of normal. I began using boundaries again and saying, “no” to requests to help others or making plans. I set alarms to head to bed and to rise earlier, turned off electronics at a reasonable hour, placed a book next to my bed, and utilized nighttime yoga and meditation. Currently, I note this plan is working.

Old record replaying

Last year, at our new home, I placed dibs on an area of the house as a personal space for movement and exercise.  As I pass it each day, I hear the voice in my head shout, "I will get to you tomorrow!" But that old record has been playing for months now. I did finally stop and wipe the mirror down last week, but I failed to roll out the mat and sit my keister down to stretch. I continue to pass on by thinking dusting is more important. What I want to express here is that my mind is willing, but my body has gone on a mental furlough and is not expected back any time soon. Pain, exhaustion, fatigue, flares have a very tight grip on my spirit.

Renewed habits

In all seriousness, being out of my daily sleep, exercise, and work routines have only sent me on a spiraling tangent of sitting more on the couch, snacking on harmful junk food, and watching the latest episode of my favorite drama series. YIKES! I really need to dig in and get motivated. I truly vow to next year give up control during the holidays, and leave the party planning and cooking to my daughter or sister-in-law. I know I can easily fall back into the damaging habits destined to sway me while managing to heal a body writhing with inflammatory arthritis.  Renewing a vow to continued health, I choose to get back on track and controlling all facets of my wellbeing.

Earlier today I retrieved my bike from the closet and placed my large mat, muscle roller, and exercise ball to the side of the mirror. I plan to roll out the mat and hop on my stationary bike, stretching and peddling my way toward health once again. I take a break from typing and glance to the corner where they are located. I fully recognize the potential they have in my life. With will and motivation, wellness will come sooner rather than later.

What helps you get back into your habits or practices when they're disrupted?

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