By Rebecca Gillett, MS OTR/L, Live Yes! With Arthritis Podcast Co-host | Sept. 1, 2021
When you live with arthritis, you know pain can be a daily occurrence or a regular state. But this month, Pain Awareness Month, we must raise awareness to others about the debilitating pain arthritis can bring and how it can affect our ability to do the things we want, need and love to do. By raising awareness about arthritis, we can advocate for our health care needs and advance research for better treatments — and eventually a cure.
It’s also a time to take a hard look at what we are actively doing to manage our own arthritis symptoms and revisit our treatment plans for keeping pain at bay. Has the stress of the pandemic gotten your routine off kilter? Are you moving more or less? Has your pain been better or worse? What are you doing to take control?
To be completely honest, I’m not doing enough. The past 18 months feel like a constant battle to just survive each day, struggling to balance work with taking care of my family, staying safe and healthy during a pandemic and actively doing the things I know help me manage my arthritis symptoms. Luckily, for the most part my arthritis pain levels are not so bad right now. My medication is keeping my pain at a very minimal level — thank you, science! — and I am physically functioning pretty well. Mentally, that’s another story that we’ll get to in a later episode.
One thing that has helped me through this crazy COVID-19 pandemic is the practice of mindfulness. And one thing I have NOT been doing enough of is movement. I know, “Practice what you preach, Rebecca.”
Working from home has certainly lowered the number of steps I take each day. My routines are all off. I was doing a good job of walking and stretching at the start of the pandemic, but my stress levels peaked to an all-time high and I just stopped moving as much. Who is with me? Please tell me I’m not alone.
Recording this episode, Mindful Movement, Part 1: Tai Chi, was a good reminder to me that I needed to move more. I can incorporate the mindfulness techniques I’ve learned into movement and get back to being more physically active. Whether I’m having a lot of pain or not, tai chi is a great way to get moving in a gentle, mindful way.
Our guest expert, Dr. Paul Lam, the creator of the Tai Chi for Arthritis program, is a family physician and world leader in the field of tai chi for health improvement. His soothing voice alone helped put my co-host, Julie, and me at ease, bringing a sense of calm to our chaotic, frenzied day. His personal journey with arthritis since he was a young boy is incredibly inspiring. His passion to help others with arthritis is contagious. He has helped millions across the globe learn the practice of tai chi to manage arthritis, so I know he will be able to help you.
Tune in to this Tai Chi episode to learn more about the practice, the research behind its benefits and how you can get started right away. I’m new to this practice and just getting started. Join me on this journey and let’s get mindfully moving together.