I love the idea of HeartsEverywhere's blog. She writes, every day, about another life club that she identifies with. For those suffering from depression or any other mental illness, loneliness is a very real feeling and symptom. This project might help an individual (maybe someone who loves to write or wants to share their stories) feel a bigger sense of belonging. Any thoughts? Would you try this project?
Arthritis is a widely varied condition that is categorized by inflammation and stiffness in the joints, and while common, does not mean that the symptoms and pain that come along with it are "normal." The Arthritis Foundation recently sent out their newsletter reminding all of us, not just those who are diagnosed with arthritis, that exercise is crucial for the health of our bones and joints.
What exactly causes the joint swelling in arthritis?
Each joint is made up of the two bones involved, the lining that covers these bones (synovium), and fluid (synovial fluid). The swelling can be caused by either the inflammation of the synovium itself or by the increase in the synovial fluid of that joint. Your body's immune system sends inflammatory cells, inflammatory proteins, and more blood into the joint, causing a warm, full, and stiff feeling.
What can you do to prevent arthritis flareups?
Exercise. Gentle exercises that do not involve too much pressure on your joints are best. Exercise increases circulation and helps pump more healthy blood and nutrients into your joints that can then take away some of the "bad stuff," like the inflammatory proteins mentioned earlier.
Check out the following gentle exercises:
- Daily routine of gentle passive and active range-of-motion exercises: Passive range of motion means that you are moving the body part using an outside force, e.g. using your left hand to move your right index finger. Active range of motion means that you are not using any outside force to make that movement. If you have pain in your hands, you want to first gently use one of your hands to move each and every single joint in each finger and wrist of the opposite hand through its range. Then you want to slowly put both hands into a bear claw position, slowly close your hands into gentle fists, and then slowly open then again. Try to do this throughout the day, not just in the morning or at night.
- Walking: Walking is relatively low impact and is an aerobic exercise that gets your heart rate up and your blood flowing.
- Dance: Turn on the music and dance a little! You do want to avoid too much impact on your joints though, so if you have arthritis in your knees, you will want to avoid too many twists and jumps.
- Swimming: When you are in the water, your joints are more protected since the water carries some of your weight. Many local swimming pools and community centers have water aerobic classes that you can take.
- Tai Chi: Tai Chi is an ancient Chinese martial art form that involves slow and gentle movements combined with breathing techniques and is recognized as another form of effective arthritis treatment. Check out the Tai Chi for Arthritis video by Paul Lam of the Tai Chi For Health Institute. His work is also referenced in the Arthritis Foundation's page regarding Tai Chi for Arthritis.
Please consult a doctor before you begin any of these exercises. Also, remember, you want to do these gentle exercises before you actually experience any pain because once you feel the pain, you are essentially just "chasing the pain away." If you feel pain at any time during these exercises, please stop and make a note of the amount of time you tried the exercise. If you would like to try the exercise again, next time, be sure to cut down that amount of time so that you do not cause yourself pain. As always, don't forget to use SMART goals when incorporating a new exercise into your daily routine.
Please keep a lookout for another post, coming soon, for tips on what you can do when you have an acute flareup.
Do you know anybody who is a chronic "resolution-er"? Someone who has a hard time maintaining their big New Year's goals past February? Who are the people around you who joke, "Yea, I made a resolution to lose weight...but then Valentine's Day came around," or "I made a resolution to quit smoking, but then I needed a break at work."
However, if making and sticking to goals is hard for you, it does not mean that you are helpless or hopeless, or should give up trying. Far too many people make goals that are too big, too general, way too difficult, and without any tracking tools. People tend to create large, grandiose, long-term goals with no short-terms goals to guide the process. Follow the 4-step method below to reach your resolutions for 2016.
Step 1: Make long-term goals as well as a few corresponding short-term goals. Make sure each goal follows the SMART acronym below:
Let’s take a look at this resolution/goal example: For 2016, I am going to work out more.
Specific: This goal is not specific at all - what exactly does “work out more” mean? What does “work out” mean? What activity are you referring to – dancing, swimming, running on the treadmill, taking a yoga class, going for a walk, etc.? What does “more” mean?
Tip: Add one to the number of times you swim/hike/dance/walk now.
Measurable: How can I measure “work out” and “more”? Make sure you consider how often and for how long you want to do and can enjoy the activity for. 10 minutes? 30 minutes?
Tip: If you are starting with 0 minutes, consider starting at just 5-10 minutes, instead of jumping straight to 30 min to avoid you fatiguing and then hating the activity.
Attainable: As your goal fleshes out, consider whether the details you are choosing are attainable or not. Think about your past experiences when trying to achieve this goal with the activity you chose, the amount of time, and what happened the last time you tried to achieve this goal. How can you make this goal as easy as possible for yourself with just the slightest hint of challenge so that you are more likely to succeed?
Realistic: Is your goal realistic so far? Do you have time for it? Do you have the energy or the physical capabilities for it?
Timely: What’s the time limit on your goal?
Tip: Keep the time factor shorter than one month for your short-term goals so that tracking progress is much easier.
A final example short-term goal: I will hike or swim for at least 30 minutes once a week for the month of February.
A final example long-term goal: I will participate in a cardio exercise for at least 30 minutes 3 times a week by the end of the year.
Step 2: Create a chart or use a calendar to chart your progress.
With the above goal, mark down each day that you were able to hike or swim for at least 30 minutes. At the end of the month, write down how many weeks during the month of February you were able to reach your goal.
Step 3: Modify your goals to reach your long-term goal.
Say during the month of February, you only achieved your goal 2 out of the 4 weeks. For the month of March, you can choose to keep the same goal, or “downgrade” it, aka make it a little easier. An example of a downgrade would be, “I will hike or swim for at least 30 minutes at least twice during the month of March.”
Say during the month of February, you achieved your goal and hiked or swam for 30 minutes every single week. Now you can choose to keep the same goal for March or you can “upgrade” it, aka make it a little harder. An example of an upgrade would be, “I will hike or swim for at least 45 minutes once a week for the month of March” OR “I will hike or swim for at least 30 minutes TWICE a week for the month of March.”
Step 4: This sounds cheesy, but congratulate yourself every step of the way
whether you get to upgrade or downgrade your goals. The biggest step is in taking the time to create SMART goals in the first place.
Share your SMART Goals in the comments below. Here’s to sticking to and achieving our 2016 Resolutions!
Hi, thanks for stopping by! My name is Jessica May Tang and I am an occupational therapist and ergonomist who decided to begin her dream life early on. I graduated from USC's MA program in Occupational Therapy and became a licensed occupational therapist in July 2014 and founded my private practice, DAMON Lifestyle Therapy, last year in March, 2015. Since then, not only has my practice grown, but my business skills, networking skills, and occupational therapy skills also continue to grow each day. It's been a tough year learning how to start my own business and experiencing all the ups and downs that come with it, but I couldn't have asked for anything better in 2015. My passion to help others build the lifestyle that they want and to create and achieve the goals they need to get them there has gotten me here today. Through my jobs as an occupational therapist at a community hospital and an outpatient neuro rehab clinic, I discovered the there is a gap in carryover when it comes to providing treatments, exercises, and solutions to patients. Many clients understand the treatment at the time, but when asked whether they went home and continued the treatment, the answer is often no. So I decided to come out on my own, in addition to those two jobs, to work with individual clients out in the community, i.e. school, workplace, home, so that the treatments and techniques that I apply can be directly applicable.
Since the profession of occupational therapy and my practice in the health and wellness sector is largely misunderstood, I am hoping to use this blog to share common healthy and happy lifestyle tips and suggestions as well as my clinical reasoning in treatment. I hope you enjoy! I also welcome any and all feedback, so if you have any questions or suggestions on topics you would like to hear about, please write me a comment!
You can also visit my business page at www.damonlifestyletherapy.com for more information.
All the best,
Jessica May Tang, OTR/L, CEAS