While living with arthritis can create stresses most people might not even think about, a technique called expressive writing may bring relief, both mentally and physically. For example, maybe you’re angry because pain is keeping you from joining friends on a shopping trip or playing with your kids – again. You may be stuck in anger.
“But in addition to anger, you probably also feel grief, loss and a lack of control over the circumstances,” says clinical psychologist Mark Lumley, PhD, psychology professor at Wayne State University in Detroit. “Expressive writing can help bring forward those less-accessible feelings besides anger that don’t always have a voice.
Writing this way reduces inner conflict and provides you a better sense of emotional balance – and perhaps even less pain – when you express those feelings on paper.”
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Sometimes you’ve just gotta get away and reboot for good mental and emotional health. Even a weekend getaway can help you recover from stressful work. A longer vacation may lead to greater psychological well-being and life satisfaction – if you can detach from your routine, plan your own schedule, do something challenging and relax, according to one study. But vacations can be stressful, and excess stress can worsen chronic pain when you have arthritis. Send vacation stress packing with these tips.
Continue reading Don’t Let Stress Get in the Way of Your Vacation
You don’t have to paint like Picasso to benefit from drawing a picture or creating a collage. In fact, no matter your artistic skills, just the practice of making art may ease stress and arthritis pain.
A small study in the journal Art Therapy found art making – drawing, making collages or molding clay – even for just 45 minutes lowered levels of the stress hormone cortisol in people, regardless of their creative ability. And numerous studies link high levels of cortisol to inflammation and greater pain sensitivity. While some study participants found the experience relaxing, others liked the creative self-expression.
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No one is immune to bad moods. Whether a minor inconvenience like a traffic jam ruins an upbeat mood or major worries cause a serious case of the blues, a bad mood feels, well, bad. When you sense a bad mood brewing, these six research-backed techniques may help, even if you’re dealing with chronic stress or depression.
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We asked our readers and followers “What’s your favorite 5-minute tip for de-stressing/relaxation?” Here are their answers.
Continue reading You Said It: 5-Minute Relaxation
The pressure of coping with arthritis can ratchet up stress and anxiety – a condition that affects as many as 1 in 3 people with arthritis. And that, in turn, can worsen the symptoms of chronic diseases and contribute to a host of other problems.
“When we are stressed or perceive a threat, our body responds with physiologic responses that prepare us to fight or escape the enemy,” says Rudy Nydegger, PhD, a clinical psychologist and professor emeritus at Union Graduate College in Schenectady, N.Y. “Our heart rate and breathing speed up, our muscles tense and blood flow to the brain increases, putting us in a state of high awareness.” That can help protect you if the enemy is an attacking tiger and the threat ends quickly. But when ongoing stress leads to anxiety (excessive worry), it can result in a heightened awareness of symptoms – for instance, pain feels worse – as well as increased susceptibility to infection and risk of other health problems, including heart disease. Anxiety can have indirect health impacts, too, if it leads to inactivity, interferes with sleep or leads you to eat unhealthy foods for comfort.
Continue reading Four Tips for Managing Anxiety If You Have Arthritis
Worn out from dealing with your disease? Never-ending appointments, medication refills, insurance paperwork, and diet and exercise worries can take a toll. Living with a chronic disease can be exhausting, even without the fatigue that comes with being ill.
Chronically ill people often feel burdened and burned out from coping with pain and illness while also managing their treatment and daily work-life demands, says Mary Anderson, a specialist in health psychology at Commonwealth Psychology Associates in Boston.
Continue reading Battling Arthritis Burnout