5 Resolutions To Better Manage Arthritis
There are no two ways about it: living with arthritis, or any type of chronic pain condition, is hard. We know that hearing things like ‘positive thinking’ and ‘exercise’ can make you bristle because it’s so much easier said than done and sometimes doesn’t feel like there’s much point, but there really are things you can do to help manage your arthritis, decrease pain and improve your quality of life. We’ve spoken to the lovely people at Arthritis Action for their 5 resolutions to help you better manage arthritis.
Embrace positive thinking
It definitely sounds easier said than done, but changing the way you think and approach things can make a huge difference to your quality of life.
“Starting with your outlook, rid yourself of negative thinking. The goal should be to appreciate that there are always limitations in life which should not define what and who you are,” says Heather Baumohl-Johnson, Clinical Hypnotherapist & Arthritis Action Director of Member Services & Operations.
“The feeling that you are somehow ‘less able’ than others can be a major hindrance in people coping with their situation. In a bid to reframe the way you look at your day-to-day life, try to improve your positive wellbeing by challenging that way of thinking and reversing it. Try to consider what you can do instead of what you may not. Remember what you have achieved instead of what you yet have to complete, and question any negative thoughts as they come into your mind,” she continues.
Cook more meals
Cooking with chronic pain isn’t always easy, but there are lots of kitchen hacks which can help make the experience easier to manage. Having a healthy, balanced diet can help with inflammation and maintain a healthy weight, plus it’s also important for your overall health and quality of life.
“Find your creativity in the kitchen! Challenge yourself to eat a more varied diet containing a broader range of nutrients, and limit processed or ready-made meals. Instead of focusing on a weight-loss goal, aim to cook more of your own meals. Learn new arthritis-friendly recipes, share culinary tips, get inspired, and rekindle your relationship with food,” says Martin Lau, Dietitian & Arthritis Action Services Development Manager.
Join a group
Living with arthritis can be a lonely experience and it can feel like no one knows what you’re going through. Sharing your experience with people who understand how it feels can be really helpful and cathartic - plus it’s always good to make new friends!
“We know that living with chronic pain can be an isolating experience. Why not make a resolution to connect with others, reach out and join a community, share experiences with, and learn from others. The nature of our relationships with our family and friends means it can be hard to ask for advice to help us through a difficult flare-up. Joining a group for people with arthritis and meeting people in a similar situation allows you to share your unique experience of arthritis and ask any questions you have, building on your confidence as well as developing a social circle,” says Dr Wendy Holden, Arthritis Action Medical Advisor and Consultant Rheumatologist.
It can be tempting to try and do everything at once when you’re having a good day, but it’s important to be balanced, take things at a sensible pace and look after yourself.
“Begin the year with this very helpful tool in your self-management toolkit – practise flare-up management by learning about ‘pacing’. During an age where people move and operate so quickly, we may have forgotten to value rest and recuperation. A question we get asked a lot is ‘How do you know when to slow down?’ Pacing is recognising your limitations, looking at your lifestyle, and developing a goal action plan to change the way you think about your daily activities, condition, and rest time. As we advise our Members, pacing is becoming aware of your activity and being conscious not to overdo it on good days. Be considerate of your long-term wellbeing, and appreciate that you can confidently prioritise your tasks to suit how you may feel on a particular day,” says Dr Wendy.
You don’t have to become a marathon runner to get active. Anything you enjoy that involves movement - from gardening to dance and strolling around the park - can make a big difference.
“Start the year following a golden piece of advice – to get more active. Keeping moving is one of the most important things a person can do to help their symptoms and progression of their condition. Depending on your current lifestyle, this could be anything from going for a short walk each day, or just taking part in chair-based exercises to keep active while you’re at home. Slotting in some form of activity to our everyday lives makes for a sustainable long-term plan to become more active individuals, today and for the future,” says David Vaux, Therapies Manager of Arthritis Action.
What are your resolutions to better manage arthritis? Let us know on Facebook!