Stress is ever-present in daily life, whether it’s from a major upheaval like a pandemic, a personal trauma like job loss, or even minor day-to-day snags like traffic. It produces inflammation-promoting chemicals in your body. In an inflammatory disease like rheumatoid arthritis (RA), more inflammation equals worse symptoms. Although you can’t eliminate stress, you can try to manage it. Here are some strategies to help reduce stress that should ease arthritis symptoms.
Some people with inflammatory arthritis say their pain makes it hard for them to fall asleep. In addition, their sleep often gets disrupted. Poor sleep leads to more pain. When you’re sleep deprived, you don’t function as well emotionally or physically. To help sleep, go to bed at the same time each night. Also, keep your bedroom cool and dark to promote better sleep.
Exercise to Relax
Have you ever experienced a mood boost after taking a walk outside? A bit of exercise stimulates the release of feel-good chemicals called endorphins. Meanwhile, it also lowers levels of stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. Any exercise is good for you, and doing a bit more – like gradually walking for longer distances or tai chi – increases your tolerance to stress. Also, yoga is good for your mind and body as studies show that the practice reduces stress and anxiety.
Calm Your Mind
Relaxation techniques are effective tools for managing stress. When you’re worried, deep breathing, mindfulness meditation and progressive muscle relaxation can ease your mind. And the best method is the one that you’ll actually use. For example, deep breathing slows the heartbeat and brings on a sense of calm when you’re having a stressful event. Deep breathing can be practiced anywhere. Taking a few minutes to meditate is good for your body and mind.
Seek Some Support
Chronic conditions are isolating. Sometimes you can feel like you’re all alone. But, you have a few options for support. Lean on family and friends. See a mental health professional who specializes in chronic conditions. Join a support group for people with arthritis, which will give you connection to others struggling with the same things. The size of your support network is less important than the quality of support you receive. So, surround yourself with compassionate people.
A lot of the things we do to deal with stress that are good for overall health. And when you feel healthier, you are better able to manage stress and ease arthritis symptoms.