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Striking a Balance With Arthritis

Don't Let Arthritis Tip the Scale

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Updated November 14, 2012

Daily Routines Can Consume You

Healthy people can find themselves caught up in stressful situations. Add in a chronic disease like arthritis and those problems become magnified.

If you live with arthritis, you can vouch for what I'm about to say. You wake up in pain, have to get ready for work, perhaps get the kids ready for school or a drop-off at the baby-sitter, travel to your job, put in a full day, come home and make sure all matters at home are taken care of -- dinner, laundry, bills paid, house cleaned, yardwork. I'm sure I don't need to go on -- you get the picture. The mundane parts of daily life can consume you. Your disease can consume you. Put the two together -- well, consider yourself consumed!

Not much fun to always feel consumed, spent, and exhausted. Not only is it not much fun -- when you become worn out to that extent, it's hard to see the forest for the trees. Instead of feel engaged and effective in your daily routines -- it's drudgery with a capital D.

Managing Physical Aspects of Arthritis

There have been many articles written about managing arthritis and managing chronic pain. But from personal experience and from knowing many people who live with arthritis, I see too often that the sole focus of living well with arthritis becomes managing physical aspects of the disease. In short and broadly-stated, it's a combination of a good attitude, having a doctor you trust, and remaining compliant with your treatment plan.

More specifically, protecting your joints, participating in regular exercise, and pacing your activities are essential parts of managing arthritis. Common sense will drive you in these directions for the most part. Somehow though, there is one thing that inevitably is forgotten -- and it goes beyond the physical -- striking a balance in your life.

Is Your Scale Tipped?

To prove my point, view your life like an old-fashioned scale. On the left side, stack work, responsibilities, family obligations, and disease management. Do you have enough on the right to balance the scale? Think for a moment of what would theoretically go on the right side. Time for your hobbies, time allotted for reading a book, time spent meditating, or getting a spa treatment? Essentially, time for yourself however you choose to spend it. Now look at the past week, past month, past year. Did you have enough on the right side to balance the left side? If you did, kudos! Read no further. If you didn't, start by asking yourself why not.

One Way to Balance the Scale

There are extenuating circumstances that temporarily tip a scale too far to one side. But rather than being a temporary situation -- have you let it become a way of life? I have myself, at times, let my scale remain unbalanced for too long. So, I will share with you what I've learned to be the solution and I promise to strive to follow my own advice.

You must consciously make time for yourself. Think it out, write it down, and if you need to -- schedule it on a calendar. It's as important as taking your pills on time or seeing your doctor on a regular basis. It's a must-do if you live with arthritis. There can be no skipping or postponing. As I said, it's a must-do. Schedule time for yourself -- each day or at least each week. Some may disregard the advice as too simplistic. Actually, it's not simple at all. Stay committed to striking a balance in your life.

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