Mental health is not just the absence of a mental illness. It’s the way we think, feel, and respond to the world around us — all day, every day. Arthritis adds an extra layer of complexity to an individual’s life and can take a toll on one’s mental health.
In this article, we will share some ways that you can improve your mental health if you live with arthritis. These tips may seem small on the surface but may have a big impact if implemented consistently over time.
Self-care is an extremely important practice that can impact your mental health in a variety of ways. It can reduce stress, help you sleep better, give you more energy, and improve your overall happiness and quality of life. If you feel like you are not getting enough sleep due to pain, try to implement a self-care practice that will help you feel your best. Some examples of self-care are taking baths, doing yoga, going for walks, and reading. You can also incorporate self-care into your daily life by eating healthy, drinking less caffeine, and setting aside time for yourself every day. When people practice self-care, they are typically more motivated to engage with their loved ones and work/school. Self-care is important for all people, but it is especially crucial for those who live with chronic pain & illnesses.
Stay connected to your support network
One of the best ways to improve your mental health is to stay connected to the people who love and support you. Whether that’s through talking to a loved one, meditating with a friend, or attending a support group, having a strong support network is essential. Connecting with others has been shown to reduce stress, improve mood, and increase feelings of belonging and self-worth. If you live with arthritis, it’s important to not isolate yourself from your loved ones. You don’t need to spend a ton of time with people, but it’s important to maintain consistent and meaningful connections with people who care about you. Whether you talk to a friend or family member every week, or meet with a group once a month, having a consistent source of support will be incredibly helpful for your mental health.
Support for people with arthritis in Bedfordshire, Luton, Northamptonshire, Oxfordshire and Milton Keynes
Versus Arthritis is a national charity offering support and information on their website and from local support groups.
The National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society (NRAS), is a patient-led organisation in the UK specialising in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA). Due to their targeted focus on RA and JIA, NRAS provides services to support, educate and campaign for people living with these complex autoimmune conditions, their families and the health professionals who treat them. They have a Milton Keynes NRAS Group via Zoom.
Children’s Chronic Arthritis Association is a national charity supporting children with Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA) in England and Wales. On their website you can find your nearest support group.
Age UK provides information, support and advice on their website about arthritis.
Exercise is not just for your physical health — it can also help boost your mental health. Exercise has been shown to improve sleep quality, reduce stress, increase feelings of self-worth, improve mood, and boost self-esteem. It’s important to note that different types of exercise may have different benefits. For example, yoga is a great practice for relaxation, while low-impact moderate intensity cardio training is a great option if you want to boost your mood. If you live with arthritis, you may feel like you can’t exercise. However, there are many different types of exercise that you can do to help improve your mental health. Swimming, for example, is a great non-impact option for those who have arthritis. You don’t have to be a marathon runner or go to the gym five times a week to get the mental health benefits of exercise. Even small changes, like taking a walk during your lunch break, can have a big impact.
Set small, achievable goals
Whether you are trying to reduce your pain, sleep better, or improve your mood, setting small goals is an effective way to improve your mental health. For example, if you want to improve your mood, one goal you could set would be to practice gratitude every day for one week. Setting small, achievable goals is a great way to get started improving your mental health. It’s important to remember that you don’t have to do everything all at once. As long as you are consistent, you will make progress. You’re also likely to see your mental health improve more quickly when you focus on how to improve your diet & participating in exercise in particular as these are the main factors to achieving good outcomes for your goals regarding mental health.
Help others who live with arthritis
Helping others has been shown to improve your mental health. Helping others can give you a sense of purpose and reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation. Helping others also provides an opportunity for you to be kind to yourself, and gives you a chance to reflect on what you are doing in your daily life. There are many ways that you can help others. You can volunteer in your community, provide emotional support to a loved one, or help manage social media groups for people who live with arthritis. There are also online opportunities to help other people, such as completing online surveys or taking part in paid studies.
Know your triggers
Knowing what makes you feel stressed or upset is an important step in improving your mental health. This is called identifying your triggers. Once you know what your triggers are, you can implement strategies to help cope with them. For example, many people who live with arthritis experience high levels of stress or anxiety, which can contribute to poor mental health. If you know that being in a public space or talking to a large group of people makes you feel stressed, you can implement strategies to help cope, such as taking a break or leaving the room. It’s important to remember that you don’t have to deal with your triggers alone. You can also help others who live with arthritis identify their triggers so that they can implement coping strategies as well.
Schedule quality alone time
Being alone doesn’t have to mean that you are lonely, sad, or unhappy. There is a difference between being alone and being lonely. Being alone with your thoughts is an important part of mental health. This can help you become more aware of your thoughts and feelings, which can help you to understand yourself more fully. There are three main reasons why you should schedule quality alone time in your day: It helps you become more mindful, it helps you to feel less lonely, and it helps you to reduce stress. Many people who live with arthritis feel a lot of pressure to be busy all the time. While being busy is great, it’s important to also carve out some time for yourself.
Be kind to yourself
One of the best ways to improve your mental health is to be kind to yourself. This can be easier said than done and takes practice, but it is an important part of mental health. Areas that you can focus on being kind to yourself include how you talk to yourself, how much you put on your plate, how you treat your body, and how you spend your free time. You can also be kind to yourself by reaching out for help when you need it and surrounding yourself with people who love and support you. Being kind to yourself has a big impact on how you feel and leads to a more positive outlook on life. There will be times when you don’t do everything perfectly, but that’s okay. You are human and you don’t have to be perfect. All you have to do is your best and be kind to yourself along the way.
Learn more about arthritis
Knowing more about your arthritis can help you to better understand what is happening to your body. This can help you to feel empowered and less alone. In addition, learning more about your disease can help you to identify your triggers, reduce stress, and find ways to help manage your symptoms. There are many ways that you can learn about your arthritis. You can speak with your doctor, read books or online articles, or take an online course.
Help with arthritis in Luton, Milton Keynes, Bedfordshire and surrounding counties
The team at The Disability Resource Centre is here to support disabled people, people with long-term health conditions, carers and their friends and families.
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