RA Flare Image

You know, it’s really tough sometimes going through life as it is, but when you lose a valued friend at an early age, it is that much harder. All the memories conjure up images of that friend and how you enjoyed each others company. The things you did together, the tears of joy and sadness, and just being there for each other. Even though you may not see one another every day or even every week, when you did get together, you just picked up where you left off. That’s what a good friendship is about.

I think I’m very fortunate that I have so many friends that I have that type of relationship with, that whenever we get together we can just pick up where we left off. Friendships help make all the things in life bearable.

When you hear that someone has cancer, your first thought is for that friend and their family, knowing what they are probably going to go through. When you are close enough to that friend, you go through those things with them. It is not a pleasant journey and NO ONE should ever have to go through it!

This can contribute to your stress levels and can do a number of things to your body and how it reacts. When you have autoimmune diseases, stress comes into play a great deal and you have to know what to do to help alleviate some of the reactions that occur – like flare-ups. Resetting your diet is one good way – even though it may only be a couple of days, that couple of days can add to your stress levels, so your goal is to try to overcome it as quickly as possible.

Stress Minion

I have found that when a flare-up occurs, it has usually come after a change in my diet at a meal or after an upset in my life. Perhaps I’ve been out and have to either eat a restaurant meal, or at someone’s home where they prepare food a different way than the way to which my body has become accustomed. The flare-up may not occur right away, but within a couple of days of the change. It can also occur when you have had a stressful situation come into your life. It can be any change – having surgery, having a baby, changing your job, moving to a new location, arranging a mortgage, learning a new task, making a presentation, getting married, losing a loved one, just to name a few things. I have learned that these things all contribute to your stress levels and can have an affect on your body. You do the best you can.

Remember, your body is a fine tuned engine. When you change the type of fuel it needs to run, you will see a difference in its performance. If that machine has mechanical difficulty, whatever it may be, it will not run smoothly. Same as your physical body. If you don’t eat the right way – you’ll notice changes in the way your body reacts – your bowels change, you gain or lose weight, your skin reacts, etc. When you go through changes that affect your stress levels, your body will react differently – if you have RA – you may have a flare-up of pain in your hands, hips, back, neck or feet.

How to help either prevent or alleviate your symptoms? First and foremost, eat better – eliminate any foods from your diet that may be causing you issues. How? Ideally, you should probably do this when you don’t have a flare-up or are stressed. Go on an elimination diet for 3 weeks, then reintroduce the foods you eliminated one at a time to see what your body does with that food. Keep a journal of what you eat and how you feel for the 3 days afterward. If you have no reaction, the food is most likely OK to continue to eat, but remove it until you complete the reintroduction of all the other foods or food groups. In a couple of days, reintroduce the next food, journal – what you ate, and notice how your body reacts, how you feel, if there are any changes of any kind, physically or mentally. Yes, mentally. Food affects your brain as well – it is part of your body!

Food affects every cell and organ in our bodies, and so will make a difference especially if you have a sensitivity. If you are sensitive to a food, you will notice differences – does your mouth itch, swell, have bumps, or your throat close? If so, you are likely allergic or have a sensitivity to that food. That’s an indicator you should have a test to see if it is an allergy or just a sensitivity. I say just, because if you have an allergy, you will ultimately have an anaphylatic reaction which will require you to go to the ER. This happened to me October 2013 on our anniversary and we are pretty sure it was the sulphites in the wine that caused it. I don’t drink alcohol any longer because I react to too many of them, so better safe than sorry.

You might not react the way I did above, but perhaps you have a foggy brain for the next couple of days, or you clear your throat constantly, or you develop a rash – any number of differences can occur. Be aware and journal everything. Any reaction means that you probably should remove that food from your diet. This is how I discovered what I should or should not be eating.

Everyone deals with stress differently, but the results are usually pretty close to the same in a lot of people. Again, you may have skin reactions, it might make you nervous and shake, you may not be able to speak in public or to anyone, or you may have emotional reactions to things that are not usual for you. Everyone is different.

Meditation is a good way to help with any stressors you encounter in your life. Just a few minutes a day will help calm down your mind and body enough that it might avoid having a flare-up, especially if you are having a stressful time.

I am a Reiki Master, which also helps with my pain levels. Reiki is a touch therapy used to help people with their health issues, be it pain or discomfort. I use it on a regular basis, especially when my wrists hurt, to relieve the pain and get my wrists back in motion. It also helps my mind as I concentrate on something other than the situation occurring at that moment and is kind of like another mode of meditation.


EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) – sometimes called Tapping – is another method of helping yourself overcome a flare-up. It is a tapping technique that can be used on the meridian points of your body. I have used this in the past to help overcome migraine headaches, and other aches and pains throughout my body. It is simple to do and there is a newsletter that you can subscribed to for FREE here to help you learn how to use it. It is not a “cure” for ailments, but it sure is nice to have some tools available to you for free that can help you out.

Another resource I use when I have a flare-up is my TENS machine – usually with the gloves. They help me to relax and stimulate my hands so that I can get them moving better. My husband bought this machine for me to use to help reduce the pain in my hands when a flare-up occurs.

When flare-ups hit, they are inconvenient, stressful in themselves and painful. They can occur anytime you divert yourself from your “normal” routine. Wrong food, overuse of limbs, wrong type of exercise, or stress can all contribute to them. I know I have had to adjust almost all of the ways I do things in order to avoid flare-ups, but they do show up occasionally.

Hopefully, this information will help you out in some way.

Bless you for being in my life.