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Hacking Arthritis Self-Care

Have you noticed how much content is devoted to what seems like normal things people should already know how to do? I'm not talking about the trumped up lists with 100 things everybody does wrong and 300 other things to do instead. The human race is doomed if even half of them are true. But since I'm alive to write this and you to read it I like our odds.

Individual content creators have their own reasons, but I believe that most take time to earnestly explain how to start journals, plant tomatoes, tie ties, and unclog toilets because they know that somebody has to. Nobody’s born with basic skills, and life is hard. But it’s especially difficult when we're missing the wisdom of essential teachers.

My grandfather's father died when my Puppa was eleven years old. That always struck me as tragic and serious, but I now understand that the most long-standing consequence of this loss was that he grew up without an important teacher. I never asked him who taught him how to do things like shave or take care of our house. And the image of my young Puppa standing there wondering what to do is chilling.

The growth of health social media advocacy flows from a similar void. Advocates step up to show disabled and chronically ill peers how to find their way, to make their lives work.

What’s the rub?

Most of my arthritis life hacks are created with friction in mind. What’s friction and why does it matter? Friction happens when one thing moves against another with enough resistance that the movement eventually stops. Car brakes work this way, but basically anything that involves rubbing and heat has friction.

How does it affect me?

The potential for friction happens thousands of times in our daily lives. Every decision we make is on one side or the other. We soothe or reduce it by limiting unnecessary or unhelpful choices. We move closer to it when we “wait to see what happens" or have to restart whatever we need to be doing.

How to reduce friction in your routine

  • Prepare your life and space to meet your needs as well as you possibly can. This is a highly individualized process centering self-care success.
  • Consolidate repetitive tasks to maximize efficiency. Use master lists for shopping, to do lists, and anything else that happens more than once or twice each year.
  • Cook ahead or obtain appropriate food to cover several days at once. Sheet pan meals and batch cooking might dramatically reduce the time you spend deciding what to make, cooking, and cleaning up. Reduce the steps to preparing meals by using shortcuts like frozen vegetables and rotisserie chickens.
  • Repeat the same or similar meals for breakfast and lunch as often as possible.
  • Consider moving toward a personal uniform or clothing schedule to save time and energy.
  • Consider sharing your knowledge through health advocacy. This work breaks through the social friction of a culture that doesn’t offer patients the knowledge they need to thrive.

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