Achieving remission when you have psoriatic arthritis (PsA) is great. But as good as it is to be in remission, you never know when a new flare-up is around the corner. It’s important to be prepared for them. One way to prepare is to create a self-care routine that you can try at home when you’re in pain.
I try to be good at self-care at all times, but it’s even more important during a PsA flare.
Here’s how I take care of myself when my PsA symptoms flare up.
1. Adjust your diet
A big fatigue day is nothing to argue with. When I wake up knowing I will not have enough energy to even feed myself, the only thing to do is to sleep it off. If severe fatigue lasts more than two days, I will make sure to eat small meals that are high in protein.
Eating well is always important, but it’s especially important when I’m flaring. I know my body does not like junk foods, so I consider eliminating them like a “spa day” for my insides. Fortunately, I have records from my elimination diet, so I know what foods trigger a negative immune response in me and I stay away from those.
2. Get cozy
Even though they’re only palliative, I like to only wear my softest fleece pajamas and cuddle up with my softest blankets. I know they don’t really have any true effect on my symptoms, but because they help me feel cozy and comfortable, they are mentally soothing.
3. Avoid germs at all costs
During a flare, I feel that I’m even more susceptible to “regular” bugs and viruses, so I try to keep my hands to myself. I wash my hands vigilantly and follow that up with a good, unscented moisturizer. At times, I’ve even been known to wear a surgical mask in public.
4. Diffuse essential oils
I diffuse healing essential oils in my home, hoping to reap positive benefits when the oils are absorbed by my skin. I also rub down inflamed joints with oil blends to alleviate my pain. I prefer these methods to over-the-counter pain remedies because they work faster and aren’t hard on my liver or stomach.
5. Loosen up
I try to move even when I don’t want to. I do this to prevent my joints from stiffening. It’s painful to start, but once I’ve been walking a bit, I feel my knees loosening up. Afterward, I’ll go back to resting them.
6. Stay hydrated
I make sure to stay hydrated because dehydration doesn’t help anyone. This is just another way that I show my cells I love them.
7. Give your body love
Speaking of love, because I believe my body believes everything I tell it, I tell all my organs I love them individually, every day. Repeat after me: “I love you, brain. I love you, heart!”
8. Slow down to meditate
I take time for meditation, prayer, and journaling. Whatever your spiritual practice, I’m sure you will agree that your day is better when you start it giving thanks, focusing on deep breathing, and processing your feelings on paper.
9. Minimize stress
I try to minimize stress, including staying off of social media for a good part of the day. Reading others’ arguments online about politics and other topics is not a good way to destress. I try not to watch anything “heavy” on the TV or in the movies during this time. I’ll warn my husband that any serious discussions will need to wait. Stress is the number one trigger for my PsA.
I hope you find some of these tips helpful. We’d love to hear yours.
Lori-Ann Holbrook lives with her husband in Dallas, Texas. She writes a blog about “a day in the life of a city girl living with psoriatic arthritis” at www.CityGirlFlare.com.