A review of 16 rheumatoid arthritis (RA) studies found that extreme or chronic stress can precede and trigger chemical reactions that increase inflammation and agonizing RA joint flares. Worry makes pain more intense with tiredness evolving into exhaustion. RA’s ongoing pressures can worsen the disease and create an endless cycle of emotional turmoil and pain. Coping by drinking, smoking, overeating, avoiding exercise, and dodging family and friends inflates symptom severity, warns Dr. Harry Fischer. Experts endorse diverse methods to calm your stress. You’ll feel better physically and mentally while also boosting your energy and general health.
Be Physically Active
Do aerobic exercises: Achy joints can make you think that working out is impossible or unwise. But walking briskly and swimming laps can help you feel better. Regular aerobic activities reduce inflammation and pain while keeping your joints mobile and building up joint-protecting muscles, says rheumatologist Dr. Patricia Katz.
As they increase your brain’s calming chemicals, these exercises decrease stress and encourage an optimistic mood and peaceful sleep. Consult your doctor first because some patients should rest during RA flares.
Include strength training: Along with aerobic exercises, resistance training and weight lifting can make your muscles stronger to support your affected joints.
Opt for physical therapy: If your symptoms prevent stress-relieving exercise, a physical therapist specializing in RA can teach you how to build up your strength, reduce your stress, and feel better.
Relax Your Mind and Body
Unwind mindfully:Studies show that mindful meditation helps boost mood, decrease distress, and alleviate pain. Focus on present experiences like your breathing. Strive to be aware of and accept being in the current moment. For guided imagery, create mental pictures of relaxing situations or places. Use all of your senses to imagine what your mind’s eye is seeing, smelling, and feeling.
Research demonstrates that calming practices like yoga, tai chi, and deep breathing can help calm RA patients’ minds while strengthening their muscles and easing their stress, pain, and fatigue.
Take a break: Overcome stressful circumstances or mental states by reaching out to a friend or cooking your favorite meal, Katz advises.
Enjoy relaxing sleep: A study discovered that over 40 percent of RA sufferers experience sleep problems that elevate stress. Inform your doctor promptly if your sleep quantity or quality is insufficient, says Katz. He can adjust your RA treatment plan if it isn’t controlling your pain.
Establish a standard eight-hour sleeping pattern by getting up and going to bed at consistent times every morning and night. A study observed that 30-minute naps lower stress hormone levels. If possible, don’t bring office work home. Turn off your computer, phone, and TV one or more hours before bedtime. Skip late-night alcohol, which may cause repeated overnight awakenings.
Change Your Lifestyle
Minimalize stress sources: Determine stressors so you can reduce or eliminate them. If work pressures are excessive, maybe you can request a different supervisor or position. You may need to consider changing jobs or professions.
If taking care of an elderly relative is overwhelming, perhaps additional family members can share or assume your role. Putting your personal health first is crucial for RA patients to alleviate additional stressors and manage their conditions, says rheumatologist Dr. David Borenstein.
Make accommodations: When your RA flares, handling daily tasks can be frustrating and painful. Instead of suffering, devise solutions. If your hands hurt while typing, consider switching to voice recognition software.
Using electric rather than manual kitchen tools can be easier on weak or sore hands. Utensils with larger grips might make cooking and baking easier. Such upgrades can curtail your stress and pain.
Don’t smoke: Although some RA patients smoke to cope with their conditions, research shows that it may worsen symptoms and compromise medication effectiveness.
Discover your unique solutions: Consider which stress-reduction activities have worked previously. Talking with trusted friends? Watching movies? Reading on your patio? Make time in your weekly routine for calming endeavors like these.
Take an active role in your treatment: Studies reveal that patients who participate in their RA care experience reduced pain and require less frequent doctors’ visits. Learning about your condition and asking your physician questions will create a comforting measure of control that can limit your stress. Meloxicam, generic Mobic, reduces RA pain, swelling, tenderness, and stiffness.
Join an RA support group: Interrelating with other sufferers will help you realize that you aren’t struggling alone as they offer new coping approaches. Studies indicate that support group participants feel less pain. Besides in-person meetings, online groups offer access to and support from fellow RA patients.
Request help: If lifestyle modifications aren’t relieving unusually high stress, consult your physician. Or Borenstein advises visiting a therapist or psychologist. Cognitive behavioral therapy can help you identify and alter bothersome thought patterns. You’ll learn how to cope with your daily job and home stresses, explore profound unsettled issues, and control your RA better. An anxiety medication can help if your distress remains unmanageable.