Arthritis is a condition that causes a feeling of pain and stiffness in one or more of your joints. The stress that is occurring in your life can make your arthritis pain worse. By finding ways to fight through your stress, your symptoms can lessen, making you feel much healthier.
Stress Arthritis Patients Deal With
The mind and body are connected to each other. Dealing with stressful situations like losing a job, having to move to a new area, the death of a loved one, or other stressors causes our bodies to react with side effects such as stomach aches, headaches, difficulty sleeping, fatigue, etc. People with arthritis already have their own unique stressors like having to depend on family members and health care professionals instead of being able to independently take care of themselves. They also have to adapt to necessary changes they must make to their job, energy levels, and more.
Effects of Stress Towards Arthritis
Being under stress can cause your muscles to tense up. This muscle tension can increase the pain that arthritis has already caused, and can ultimately lead to the development of depression. When you are stressed, the body releases chemicals into the blood that create a series of physical changes, such as a faster heartbeat and a higher breathing rate. When you deal with your stress in a positive way, your body will fix itself, including any damage that was caused by stress. A small amount of stress can be good for you, as it can motivate you to do your best; whereas too much stress can lead to an inability to function.
Find the Cause of Stress
Think about what causes you the most worry on a daily basis. Also, think about what makes you anxious and nervous. You can write down your daily experiences in a journal, then review your entries to help give you a clear picture of what is bothering you (as well as the physical symptoms you are experiencing). Once you are aware of the situations, you can identify ways to help prevent those situations from happening, which you may also want to write down. For example, if you get anxious when family members are coming over and they are expecting you to cook, find the recipe and buy the materials in advance.
Share Your Feelings
Speak to a family member, friend, or co-worker about how you are feeling to help you see your problems differently. Be open to them about things that you cannot do—and do not be afraid to ask for help. Turning down extra responsibilities that you know you have difficulties accomplishing can help reduce your stress. Remember that your arthritis is a private matter. If your arthritis is interfering with your daily duties, it is best to mention it to someone, but when you choose to tell someone is up to you. Additionally, it is important to be able to show your anger in a healthy way that will not make you feel worse later. For example, you can simply say that you are feeling angry without blaming someone for making you angry. This should ideally lead to a calm discussion about what can be done to help you feel better. Opening up to people will help improve your relationships, which will ultimately better your mental health.
Avoid Feelings of Depression
Depression has a way of making those with arthritis feel miserable and increase their pain. It is possible you are feeling angry or sorry for yourself because of your daily struggles with arthritis. These feelings are very common for those with this chronic disease. You can help overcome your feelings of depression by getting out and finding ways to be happy with your loved ones, rather than letting yourself wallow in your sadness. You may also want to find creative outlets as a way to relieve the tension. Take care of yourself by seeing a therapist who can help you deal with your depressive symptoms. If you are experiencing the symptoms of depression for more than two weeks, it is a sign that you need to see a doctor.
Having constant pain and limited energy can mean you are not giving it your all. You tend to work harder when you have the most energy. Instead of wearing yourself out by doing too much at once, plan your days out in advance. Be honest with yourself about how much you can realistically do each day and spread out your responsibilities during the week. Save the stressful tasks for earlier in the day to get them over with and schedule rest breaks in between to give yourself moments to breathe.
It is important to remember that drugs and alcohol are not the answers or an escape to your problems. These substances will only make your health problems worse. In the long run, drugs and alcohol will only increase your stress instead of easing it. It is best to speak to a mental health counselor or hospital about the programs they offer for stress management. Even though arthritis could be at the top of your list to manage, it is important to take care of the rest of your body by exercising, sleeping well, eating three meals a day, and staying active. By being in control of your stress levels, you are in control of your arthritis.
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