Photo Credit: PathDoc / Shutterstock.com
Coping With Arthritis
Getting any physical or mental health diagnosis puts high levels of stress on you. As soon as your doctor confirms the results, you begin the process of coping with the news, whether you want to or not.
To improve the quality of your life, set your sights on using the best coping skills you can. They will be uncomfortable at times, and they will seem to make things worse instead of better, but the long-term benefits are worth the short-term frustrations.
Follow these steps for coping well with your arthritis diagnosis.
1. Freak Out
You might be surprised by step one. Not many people will tell you to panic when you hear about a new diagnosis, but it can actually be a great start to the process.
When people first hear about a diagnosis, they tend to be very calm and intellectual. They begin to look at facts and figures. They begin to know their situation rather than “feel” their situation. This can lead to a lack of emotional understanding and perpetual denial of the situation.
Freaking out early ensures that you understand the situation. Keep in mind that most people experience something along the lines of panic during their coping process. Doing it early helps to limit the negative outcomes.
The trick is to set a timeline for your period of emotional frenzy. A few hours, a day or a week can be enough to push through denial and move on to step two. Set your timeline early before too much time elapses.
Photo Credit: Alexander Raths / Shutterstock.com
2. Do Your Research
The information gathering of step two allows you to gain a better understanding of the situation and what it means to you. There are different types of arthritis and they will influence people differently.
When seeking out information, work to find the most trusted and respected sources. Retrieving information from your sister’s cousin’s brother who has arthritis might not be the best option for you and your situation.
Even forums and social media can become overly negative and defeating. Early in your diagnosis your doctor will be the greatest source of information. Pay attention and take notes, since your memory is not as sharp during highly emotional periods.
Photo Credit: Boule / Shutterstock.com
3. Avoid Triggers
Smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol and eating certain foods can all contribute to your condition. Research how these affect your specific type of arthritis.
To get even more information, begin documenting your diet, alcohol consumption and smoking patterns in relation to your pain. By writing down this information, you can begin identifying connections between intake and symptoms. This process assists in coping because it places some control and power in your hands.
Having a new diagnosis seems demoralizing and scary. In these situations, control is a valuable resource.
Photo Credit: sumroeng chinnapan / Shutterstock.com
4. Protect Your joints
Coping with arthritis is easier when your joints are feeling better. You cannot undo the damage, but you can begin using methods that slow the progression.
Be kind to your joints, and pay more attention to how you are treating them. Are you banging away on the keyboard or clicking the mouse for hours? Are you walking in uncomfortable shoes or sitting in a chair you know is too old and uncomfortable?
Treat your joints to a little pampering by seeking out ways to change old habits. A different keyboard angle could make a world of difference. A new chair could improve comfort and reduce pain. Find tools designed for people with arthritis. They can make a range of tasks pain-free, which will encourage you to do those more often.
Photo Credit: Zdenka Darula / Shutterstock.com
5. Move Your Body
Say goodbye to the idea that exercise is impossible for you, and consider the range of exercises available to you. Discuss the topic with your doctor. Stretches are simple enough for anyone to learn and people with arthritis can do these routinely.
Running a marathon is out of the question, but swimming, walking and elliptical machines are great low impact aerobic exercises. Even weight training can strengthen the muscles surrounding the joints to decrease the pain.
Additionally, increasing your activity will help you maintain a healthy weight, which will improve your symptoms as more weight equates to a higher impact on your joints. Keep in mind some medications for arthritis can trigger weight gain.
Photo Credit: Image Point Fr / Shutterstock.com
6. Bring the Heat or Cool It Down
Arthritis insists that you improve your self-monitoring. Self-monitoring is the act of paying attention to your body, your thoughts and your feelings. You can gain valuable information from this, including what your body needs at the time.
If you can treat your daily pain before it becomes too overwhelming, you can get more done today and tomorrow. Sometimes you will need the coldest ice pack your freezer can create. Other times heat is best.
Experiment on your own after seeking feedback from the instagram viewer private experts to know what is best for you at a given time. The difference between hot and cold could be the difference between pain and relief. Either way, listen to your body to know which direction to take.
Photo Credit: michaeljung / Shutterstock.com
7. Check Your Thinking
For centuries, people have observed the power of the mind. The way you think about something controls the influence that it has over you. If you are overly negative about your arthritis, your arthritis will become an overly negative force. It will be an insurmountable opponent that you can never conquer. This leads to increased depression, anxiety, hopelessness and powerlessness, which, in turn, leads to more pain.
By seeing arthritis as simply an inconvenience, you retain power and control of your symptoms. Hope is an important variable of this equation. Finding ways to be hopeful everyday will give you the strength to move forward.
Photo Credit: bikeriderlondon / Shutterstock.com
At some point since your diagnosis, someone has said that you should find ways to relax. But relaxing is often not easy, especially when you add a serious medical issue into the mix.
But relaxation is essential – finding new ways to relax your mind will help you relax your body. When your body is tense, you will likely have more pain in your joints due to the added stress and tension.
Research relaxations like deep breathing, autogenic training, guided imagery and progressive muscle relaxation to get the calm mind and body you seek.
Photo Credit: racorn / Shutterstock.com
9. Find New Directions
A new diagnosis is the beginning of a new chapter in your life, but to many it feels like the end – the end of health, the end of happiness, and the end of the opportunity to do the things you want to do.
Avoid this negativity by making it a priority to find new passions in life. Take that class you have been talking about or go on that trip that has been on your bucket list. This keeps you looking to the future instead of dwelling on the past.
Photo Credit: Dmytro Zinkevych / Shutterstock.com
10. Stay Consistent
Keeping up with your arthritis treatment is necessary to give your body the best chance to do well. The best treatment or the best steps to cope are meaningless without the needed follow-through.
Attend all appointments with questions and feedback for your doctors. In terms of medication, be as consistent as you can to ensure best efficacy. Eat well and exercise regularly to study their benefits.
If your consistency is not giving you the best results, switch paths, but be consistent in the alternative. The only way to know if something is working is with consistency.
Read more about positive coping strategies for arthritis patients over at NewLifeOutlook.