How To Manage The Anger Of Arthritis
When you’re living with arthritis, it’s normal to have a range of feelings and emotions about your condition.
Many people may experience anger when they’re first diagnosed, because arthritis is a chronic pain condition and it’s not the kind of news you want to get. You may be angry that this happened to you, upset about the future, or concerned about how you’re going to cope. You might even be angry at other people, because they don’t understand what you’re going through and they don’t have to experience it themselves.
Feeling difficult and sometimes unpleasant emotions is a part of being human, and it’s important to accept how you feel and not try to push it away or blame yourself for it. There is no ‘right’ way to receive bad news, and people have different ways of processing things.
That being said, it is important to learn how to manage your emotions and seek professional help if needed. We spoke to Heather Baumohl-Johnson, Clinical Hypnotherapist & Arthritis Action Director of Member Services & Operations, to find out more about managing the anger of arthritis.
Why might someone experience anger when they are diagnosed with arthritis?
Living with a long-term condition like arthritis can be emotionally taxing. Coping with ongoing symptoms that impact your daily life can be difficult to accept and take a toll on the mental wellbeing of an individual - potentially leading to anger, low mood or stress.
Can negative emotions like anger make symptoms of arthritis worse?
Negative emotions like anger can certainly make symptoms of arthritis worse. Having any long-term painful condition can get people down over time. The negative emotions and pain of arthritis can affect how you sleep, resulting in tiredness which can contribute to further low mood and anxiety. Having to consistently take regular drugs which may have side effects can also get people down, perpetuating this cycle.
How can you manage your anger?
It’s important to remember that feeling low or angry from time to time is completely normal when you live with arthritis. Try to be positive about the pain you experience. Managing your pain can put you in a position of power, and help you control your emotions.
You can try to increase your endorphins, which are natural ‘feel good factor’ hormones produced by the body. Increasing your endorphin levels will help to lift your mood, and exercise is one easy way to increase your endorphin levels.
Try to get out of the house as often as possible and experience new situations. Feelings of isolation can be very common when you live with arthritis, but it doesn’t have to be this way. A new social group or exercise class will help you meet new people. If you cannot get out of your house very much, then arrange phone calls with friends to talk things through. Internet messaging boards can put you in touch with like-minded people and give you something to focus on.
Knowing where to find support for your emotions isn’t always easy. Look for resources that can help you find available services in your area, like Arthritis Action’s Mental Health Directory.
How can you get support for your anger from those around you?
Getting support from a friend can be a very rewarding experience. Speaking to someone you trust could enable you to improve your condition, helping you to maintain an active, enjoyable lifestyle and manage your arthritis rather than let it control you.
Try to talk to your friends honestly about how you feel, to help them understand what is happening to you and the difficulties you sometimes have. Even if you lose confidence in yourself, it is still important to seek support from those around you, whether emotional or physical. They may give you the confidence and insight you need to move on.
If your anger (or other overwhelming or difficult emotions) are taking a toll on your life, you may want to speak to a mental health professional who can help you develop tools and techniques to cope and thrive. Your doctor can refer you, and many areas of the U.K allow you to refer yourself to a counselling service. There are also private options and charities available which can help.
How do you manage your anger around arthritis? Let us know on Facebook.