8 tips to have a stress-free Diwali when you live with Rheumatoid Arthritis Blog by Joti Reehal Diwali is a time of celebration, rejoicing, and letting light replace the darkness in our lives. It’s a time to meet friends and family, it’s a time to eat abundantly. When I think of Diwali I think of candles, happiness, lots of food, sweets and lots of playful noises and gifts. I think of being around family, friends, children and adults. I think of prayers. Of taking time out to count our blessings and of lighting candles and fireworks to mark the occasion. Diwali for the majority of us is a time to get together and celebrate. For some, it may be for a day, for others, a few days. I find myself full of happiness and joy at this time of the year, but for someone like me who lives with RA, it can also feel overwhelming and fearful. Fear of if I will be able to cope. Fear of how I will manage to entertain my guests. Fear of how I’ll be able to stand and cook all day. How will I be in the evening? Fear of how I’ll be able to get through the day. And above all, fear of how i’ll be the next day, and the day after, and the day after that? How fatigued will I be? Will my joints be more painful? All of these questions play on my mind. In the past I would carry on like everybody else and then really struggle afterwards. I would pretend I was normal, pretend nothing was wrong with me, but then behind closed doors I was the one that would struggle. I’ll be the one that was in so much pain all night that I couldn’t bear it. I would be the one that would be crawling to the bathroom in the morning because I couldn’t walk. But I have learnt. Even if I’ve had to learn the hard way. I’ve learnt to allow others to share the chores with me, share making dishes, share preparing for all the celebrations. It doesn’t mean if we have RA we cannot enjoy Diwali, or we cannot enjoy any other festive season. We can. Like every other person – we can. We must be kind to ourselves and care for ourselves. Our friends and families are so loving and so caring, and all we need to do is ask for help. If somebody offers help, take it. Don’t pretend to be a soldier, and don’t pretend that you can do everything and that you’re not going to suffer for it afterwards – because the chances are, as I’ve learnt from personal experience, you will. If I could offer you any advice, for this festive season, It would be; Pace yourself think about what you need to do, and plan your days in advance. 2. Write lists so you can be prepared and slowly do things to the lead up to Diwali. 3. Buy gifts online where you can to help organise yourself. 4. Order your shopping online so you are not walking or carrying heavy bags in supermarkets. 5. Ask family and friends to pick up things for you while they are out shopping. They will be there anyway so they won’t mind! 6. Make food in batches so that you are not doing everything at once. 7. Make your life easier. If your family members are asking how they can help, then delegate out some of those chores. 8. If you are hosting the Diwali party, delegate some of the cooking. Your family and friends will all be more than happy to bring a dish. You can still all get together and enjoy them together. Everybody is there to help you – take the help, let’s enjoy Diwali without suffering afterwards. Be kind to yourself – YOU MATTER! From NRAS and myself, we would like to wish you a wonderful Diwali. Want to share your story of your experience with RA like Joti? Get in touch with us on social media via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and subscribe to our YouTube channel.