Responsibilities Consume You
Your daily or weekly routine largely centers around your responsibilities. As an aggregate, your responsibilities at work, at home, with family and friends, and some would say with God, consume most of your time.
If you factor in a chronic illness, the entire dynamic changes. What comes first? What's most important in a list of responsibilities that are all important? How are your responsibilities divided up so that everything gets appropriate attention?
Integrating Chronic Arthritis With Other Responsibilities
With chronic arthritis, it becomes your responsibility to learn how to manage the disease. But managing the disease entails more than doctor visits and treatment regimens. You have to learn how to integrate that disease into the rest of your life -- because it's not going away.
Look at your life with arthritis. It's quite amazing. While in pain, and sometimes that pain is severe, you try to keep life as normal as possible. What seems to be lacking is time for yourself.
Don't Allow Time for Yourself to Slip Away
Taking time for yourself is as essential as any pill you have been prescribed, or any treatment you may have tried. But it's not prescribed like a medication or treatment -- so it's easily overlooked. When things become overwhelming, and when you could use it the most, taking time for yourself is the first thing to go. Other responsibilites are deemed more important and taking time for yourself falls off.
Be conscious of how much better you feel when you take time for yourself. Then, never let it slip away. Taking time for yourself doesn't have to be a grand vacation to Hawaii -- smaller excursions and time allottments are beneficial too.
Suggestions for Grabbing Time for Yourself
Has it been a long time since you have taken time for yourself? Have you become defined by your responsibilities and your chronic illness? More than ever, you need time for yourself and here are some suggestions to get you started or re-started:
- Schedule private time for yourself each day. No matter how short or long -- schedule the time for yourself no differently than you schedule a doctor appointment.
- If you like to walk, schedule a walk for the same time every night -- that way it becomes routine.
- Turn off your phone and let the answering machine record messages from the missed calls. Make yourself unavailable.
- Find time to listen to your favorite music. There's no better way to relax.
- Grab 2 good books -- one for now and one to follow. The continuity is planned so you will keep reading.
- Do something to make yourself feel good (e.g., manicure, pedicure, massage, haircut).
- Treat yourself to your favorite meal or snack. After all, you deserve it.
- Each week, bring out a project you set aside (e.g., making a quilt) and make progress with it.
The list of what you could do with your time is endless. What's essential is that you make the time and take the time. No excuses. No exceptions. If I tell you it's part of your treatment plan, will you do it? It's part of your treatment plan.