What were some of my lifestyle changes I had to make as an RA Warrior!

How RA affects my health; it’s as simple as that. My lifestyle choices affect all aspects of my physical well-being, and that includes my joints.  I constantly experience a struggle to determine the right balance of lifestyle habits in order to enhance my quality of life and to try to achieve a normal life, independent of my established RA.

(RA) is a health condition I have realised that has played several different roles in my life. Sometimes it is strong and angry. Other times it can be gentle and in control. It has a way of making surprise visits when least expected. Funnily it has a personality of its own. Keeping RA in check means finding a balance of medications and lifestyle changes that allow me to lead the live I desire.

RA not only influences my everyday life and work, but it also affects my relationships. The condition has an impact on many different parts of my relationships, and influence the roles I assume, the division of chores in the household, mutual family plans and leisure activities. All holidays and outgoings require planning including travel, movies or family gatherings. A few times I had to cancel my trips as I was not feeling too confident of my health.

I constantly find myself balancing between ideality and reality!

As a reminder, I am sharing what worked for me; this does not mean that it will work for everyone. I do not have any medical training other than living with chronic illnesses and pain for 18 plus years, yes but I know more than the new RA warrior who has just been diagnosed!

  1. Staying Active

Exercising for most will be the last thing we want to do when your joints ache, but I have seen through the years that physical activity alleviates joint pain and stiffness, increases joint mobility, strengthens muscles and improves my mental health.  I do at least a small amount of yoga movements every day. I do what I can to make sure the muscles in my body are able to help my joints work well and to protect them from themselves.

My prime mission is I always want my joints and my muscles to remain as strong as possible, hence I keep using them daily. The trick is to use them the right way.

I will vouch that these lifestyle changes, along with my medications, have assisted me in helping to achieve greater mobility and reduced pain.

  1. Always maintain a Healthy Weight

Always concentrating on my BMI and ensuring not to put any extra kilos through the years. As any additional pounds worsens my aches and pains.

  1. Eat a Balanced Diet

Concentrate on foods which assist to fight inflammation, strengthen my bones and boost my immune system. These include foods rich in inflammatory-fighting omega-3 fatty acids like salmon, olive oil; antioxidant-rich herbal teas; fibre-rich multi whole grains and beans; and vitamin C-rich citric fruits. Found myself to be allergic to some foods hence totally avoid them and feel better. Diet -based and lifestyle- based disease management is very hard.

  1. Constantly on the lookout for balanced Vitamin D levels

Avoid vitamin D deficiency as it can worsen existing arthritis symptoms. Not having sufficient vitamin D can lead to a pro-inflammatory result and can cause symptoms to arise or worsen. Hence always control it with regular blood tests and Vit D supplements.

  1. Manage my Stress

I always recognize what causes my stress and divert what I can. Schedule time for breaks, my hot baths, avoid people who antagonize me and give me negative vibes. Negativity is a no-no for me. My daily routine involves relaxation exercises including a few minutes of meditation, deep breathing and guided imagery.

  1. Fighting Fatigue

Resting my body is an important aspect when living with rheumatoid arthritis, especially during a flare-up. Dealing with the day to day pain and stiffness of RA during flare ups can be draining. Fighting fatigue is all about a balance between rest and activity and that is what I am on top of it.

  1. Always try Alternative Treatments along with my Medications

Over the years I have also relied on a combination of lifestyle changes, medications and alternative treatments to control my symptoms and prevent flare-ups. The addition of these changes and alternative treatments have helped to reduce my dependence on drugs and lower the side effects and costs of RA medications. It could be a massage therapy, herbal or essential oils, acupressure, NST, etc, I cannot pinpoint to one single medium, but I have never stopped my medications.

When we take steps to control our RA symptoms, we are at a lower risk of developing additional diseases and permanent damage.

Incorporating all the above into my lifestyle has helped me to not only live well—but thrive—with rheumatoid arthritis.

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