RA Tip: Spring Cleaning and Rheumatoid Arthritis

Your calendar is a reminder that spring is here in addition to the warmer weather. With spring in the air and wintertime behind us, many of us want to spring into action. By that I mean, spring cleaning but rheumatoid arthritis flares may prevent you from completing everything you would like done. That is the valuable lesson I learned in the spring of 2011 about overdoing things. I spent most of April swore from head to toe as a result of my insane desire to get rid of the clutter in my life. As a result of that experience, I gained some much needed knowledge.

Here are those lessons learned:

Prioritization. Decide what cleaning projects are best suited for spring and which can wait for the other seasons.

Planning. Create a system to complete tasks in an efficiently and orderly manner. Some jobs you can do in the morning, others maybe better in the evening hours. For example, you may want to tend to your garden during the day when temperatures are warmer and clean out closets in the evening. Switch from hand work to reaching or bending work so that you do not overwork one area of the body for too long.

Do not everything at once. Spring lasts for three months so you can spread projects over days or weeks.

Rest. Plan rest periods. By skipping a rest period, you may get one task off your list but you may also overdo things and end up having to rest for days.

Avoid repeat trips. Use an apron with pockets or a utility cat to avoid repeat trips for cleaning supplies. Or buy multiple supplies to keep in several areas of your home especially if you have steps to climb.

Protect joints. Keep your hands flat when wiping things down with rags or use dusters that fit over the whole hand to keep your hands and fingers from becoming inflamed. Use large sponges so that you can squeeze water out by pushing down on rather than pressing the sponge into the palm of your hand. Consider joint friendly cleaning supplies such on long handled dustpans. Make sure tools and products are light weight, easy to use and long handled. If possible, sit down during a project and use foot rests.

Last year’s spring cleaning left me in bed for several days. Now that I reflect on upon that, I think that not only should we spring clean our homes but also our minds. Think about it – it is so important to sort your thoughts, address concerns you may have and eliminate issues that no serve no purpose but constant stress and worry.

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