2 hammocks handing from tree at sunset

Hurry Up and Relax

I took a “Mental Health Day” today from work and it was AWESOME!  I know, I know that’s no surprise to anyone familiar with the daily grind, but this week a day off was particularly needed by me.  I started a detox this week and we all know how much fun one of these can be in the beginning.  Combine this with work stress + home stress — well, you get the idea.   It was time for a day of much needed R & R.

Meditative Walking

One of my favorite healthy ways to unwind is by taking a meditative walk — yes, I said walk!  I love feeling the sun on my face, the wind in my hair, and the earth beneath my feet. Walking helps me clear my mind — in fact, I’ve come up with some of my best ideas while on one of my walks. I think the key is to be in the moment and appreciate what is happening right now.  Meditation can be done not only sitting, but anywhere — standing in the shower, walking outside, even washing dishes.

Guided Imagery

Sometimes, I only want to relax and take a mental vacation.  You don’t need the perfect place to meditate –just sit in a comfortable chair or cushion, turn on your meditation app, and listen to a soothing voice guide you to your happy place.  You can go anywhere or visualize whatever you want — back when I was in the throes of pain due to an RA flare, I would picture my immune cells healing my  joints and my body free of pain.   There are many meditation apps out there — one of my favorites is Headspace.  You can try it out for free then purchase a subscription. If you’re a newbie to meditation, 1 Giant Mind is a good app to try.  It provides a 12 step meditation course that teaches you the basics.

Transcendental Meditation

There are times, I enjoy sitting in silence and letting my mind clear.  Sit somewhere comfortable, close your eyes — ideally for about 20 minutes twice a day–but if you can only do 10 minutes once a day that’s ok too. Your mind needs a break to unwind and reach a state of peaceful awareness.  I often use a mantra to help my monkey mind settle down. Think of all the time you waste on social media — it’s probably way more than 20 minutes.

Conclusion

I’ve found that meditation helps me manage my daily stress and improve my mood and outlook on life.  Stress can definitely impair your immune response which can adversely affect autoimmune diseases like RA.  By doing something as simple and cost effective as meditation, you may be better able to cope with the pain and joint problems associated with RA. Why not give it a try?  What tips do you have for relaxing your mind and body?

About the author

Susan Taylor, RDN LD is a registered dietitian / nutritionist with 20+ years experience in the nutrition field.  Susan has worked in a variety of clinical settings including hospitals, longterm care, rehab, and private practice. She currently enjoys life in the Charleston, SC area and is always looking for ways to fit in a little more beach time.