social media iconsIn 2004 when my rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis became official, I never imagined I would find aspects of my RA that I appreciate, but I have. Rheumatoid arthritis has a crazy way of holding me accountable to my own self-care in a way nobody else can. Often my friends and family will let me do more than I am physically or mentally capable of doing, but rheumatoid arthritis loudly reminds me with swollen fingers, sore knees, achy feet, and killer shoulder pain that I have overdone it.

Back in March, rheumatoid arthritis told me loud and clear that I wasn’t being good to myself.

I decided to listen. My body hurt and honestly, I was just exhausted. I acknowledged that I had become obsessed with social media and told myself I would take a weekend away from the news, other people’s stories and conflicts and instead focus on myself. I would read and meditate. I would talk to my family, sit outside and absorb the sunshine, and let my brain have time to rest.
I did all of these things that weekend and when Monday came, I decided I wasn’t quite ready to take on the world and opted out of returning to social media or learning about any current news. Instead I started a daily habit of waking up, doing a short meditation, and sitting in my favorite chair reading. It’s amazing how much time you have for other habits when you aren’t checking Facebook a million times!

My weekend away from social media, especially Facebook, turned into a lot longer than I imagined.

I slowly headed back to Twitter and Instagram, two that I don’t spend a lot of time on anyhow but didn’t feel ready to face the issues of my family and friends on Facebook for over a month. During my time away from Facebook, I focused on doing nice things for me. I had a consistent month of exercise. I listened to the daily news until I started feeling anxiety about it and then stopped. My brain actually experienced QUIET, something my body personally needs a lot of. Best of all, for the first time since signing up for Facebook, I heard stories about people from their own mouths. For some reason, it is refreshing to not know everything that is happening to friends as it is happening. Plus, as someone who easily absorbs the thoughts and feelings of others, I have realized that you really can know too much about some people. There are people in my life that all I need to know about them is their pleasant acquaintance smile.

Rheumatoid arthritis can be our worst enemy but after 13 years of dealing with the ups and downs and unpredictability that it can bring to our lives I have learned one thing. It can also tell us things about ourselves that we need to know, especially those things we often ignore and push through – STRESS and the NEED for REST. I realize many things determine when and why our body becomes inflamed, but taking the time to listen to your rheumatoid arthritis and be good to your own body, whatever that may mean for you, is something your body and you deserve.

You can read more by Cathy on her blog: The Life and Adventures of Cateepoo