When you think of hacks for psoriatic arthritis (PsA), you might be expecting my favorite products or tricks that I use to make living with PsA a little easier. Sure, I have some favorite products, including heating pads, ice packs, creams, and ointments. But the reality is, even with all of these products and tricks, living with PsA is just hard.
When it comes down to it, there’s a whole other set of hacks that are much more important to have in your toolbox.
Products and tricks aside, here are my must-have PsA hacks to make living with this chronic condition a little bit easier.
The ability to listen, listen, and listen some more
Our bodies are always sending us signals about the current “state of the union.” The aches and pains we experience, as well as how long we experience them, give us clues about how to treat them. For example, if I overdo it running errands, going out with friends, or even just getting out of bed, my body definitely lets me know.
But we might not always listen to the subtle signals our bodies send us.
Pay attention and listen to all the signals you receive, good and bad. You’ll be able to make better choices in the future to help keep flares at bay.
Support your support system
A solid support system can make all the difference when you live with PsA. Surrounding ourselves with people who can provide physical and emotional support is important. One thing we can fail to remember, though, is that even those within our support system need a little support of their own sometimes.
The people who help us out can’t pour from an empty cup.
As PsA patients, we crave support and understanding, especially from those we love the most. But do we offer that same support and understanding to them? We like to know our voices are heard and our chronic illness is validated, but is that support a two-way street, or do we only expect others to give to us?
You might think, “I barely have enough energy to make it to the end of the day myself, how can I offer anything to others?” Well, even simple gestures can work wonders, such as:
- asking your caregiver how they are doing for a change
- sending a card to show you’re thinking of them
- giving them a gift card for a spa day or set them up with an evening out with their friends
Give yourself a little grace
Caring for a body with PsA is a full-time job. The doctors’ appointments, medication regimens, and insurance paperwork alone can make you feel overwhelmed and fatigued.
We make mistakes and we pay the price. Sometimes we eat something that we know will cause a flare, then feel guilt and remorse the next day. Or, perhaps we choose not to listen to our bodies, do something we know we’ll pay for, and almost immediately regret it.
Carrying around all of the guilt that comes with the choices we make, as well as the burden we feel like we are to others, isn’t good. Of all of the hacks that I’ve learned with PsA, this is probably the most difficult for me.
I cannot scream this hack loudly enough. I know it’s hard and you reallydon’t want to. But when mountains of statements and bills pile up around you, you’ve set yourself up for overwhelming anxiety and depression.
Take the time to sort through some of the paperwork and file it away. Even if it’s only to 10 to 15 minutes daily, this will still keep you organized.
In addition, do your best to keep your symptoms, medications, and treatment choices organized. Use a planner track your diet, pharmaceutical treatments, natural remedies, and whatever you’re doing to control your PsA. Keeping all of your health information organized will allow you to better communicate with your doctors and get better care.
Take advantage of the ‘commercial vortex’
The “commercial vortex” is a little term that I’ve made up to describe those few minutes of time when you’re channel surfing or nursing your latest flare from the couch and commercials pop up on TV.
I watch a lot of streaming TV, and you can’t always fast forward through those little buggers. So, instead of sitting there watching the same commercials over and over again, I use that time in a way that is a little better for my body.
During those brief minutes, stand and gently stretch or complete a chore and dust your TV. Slowly shuffle to the kitchen and back. Use this time to do whatever your body allows you to do.
Time is limited, so it’s not like you’re committing to a marathon workout. But more than that, I’ve found that if I sit for toolong, my joints get even creakier, and it becomes even more difficult to move them when the time inevitably comes that I have to get up. In addition, if I choose to do something like load the dishwasher or fold a bit of laundry, then that helps alleviate some of my anxiety.
After years of living with PsA, these are the best hacks I have to offer. They’re not tricks or things you can go out and buy. But they’re the things that have made the biggest difference in making my life a little more manageable with PsA.
Leanne Donaldson is a psoriatic and rheumatoid arthritis warrior (yep, she totally hit the autoimmune arthritis lotto, folks). With new diagnoses added each year, she finds strength and support from her family and by focusing on the positives. As a homeschooling mom of three, she is always at a loss for energy, but never at a loss for words. You can find her tips for living well with chronic illness over on her blog, Facebook, or Instagram.