Even happy, positive people can suffer from emotional distress as they suffer from the pain and impairment that arthritis can cause. Gaining insight into your own emotional experiences, and finding healthy ways to cope, can make a big difference in your ability to surmount the challenges that arthritis can bring.
Here are some of the ways that you can deal with these emotions:
- Keep an emotional diary. The first step to gaining insight into your emotions is to identify how you’re feeling. For many people, keeping a diary of emotional states can be helpful. It can also help your doctor during your medical consultations. Some people choose to rate their emotions on a scale, similar to the Visual Analog Scale for physical pain. It’s also a good idea to note the context of these emotions. This helps you determine whether they’re a normal situational response — like being anxious and nervous before a big job interview — or whether they might be symptoms of clinical depression.
- Stay positive. You don’t always have control over things that happen to you in your life, but you can take control over how you respond to them. Being positive doesn’t have to mean being unrealistic or naive, and positive thinking can make a big difference by reducing stress and helping you find joy in life. Try to focus on what’s positive in your life, instead of the negative. Rather than dwelling on what you cannot change, focus on proactive things that you can do to improve things.
- Talk about it. Talking about it really does help. You can talk to friends and family, but there are also support groups for RMD patients where you can meet other people who are going through similar challenges. If there aren’t any groups in your geographic area, online forums and chat rooms can provide a similar opportunity.
- Try meditative and relaxation techniques. Meditative practices are sometimes dismissed as New Age fluff, but neurological research has illustrated changes in the brain that occur during these experiences. Mindfulness meditation, visualization techniques, and controlled breathing can help reduce stress and calm your emotions, helping you become better equipped to deal with life’s many challenges. There are many different styles of meditation, giving you many options to find something that works well for you.
- Get active. Not only does exercise release endorphins that boost your mood, but it also helps ease arthritis pain. Talk to your physician about starting up an appropriate exercise program. Even going for a daily walk can make a big difference for your mental and physical health.
- Learn self-management and self-motivation techniques. This involves developing new skills and knowledge to cope with RMD on a daily basis. Setting realistic goals, and taking action to achieve them, is a way to empower yourself.
Share Your Story About Living with Arthritis
If you’re living a full, happy life despite arthritis, the World Arthritis Day organization would love to hear your story. If you live with arthritis, or you have an inspiring story about supporting one of your patients with RMD, you can submit your story.
Living with arthritis can be challenging, but with the right outlook on life, any challenge can be overcome.