You know that enacting all those self-care tips will help you feel better, but sometimes it’s so hard to do what you need to. We asked our readers and followers “What do you know you SHOULD do for your arthritis, but it’s just so hard?” Here are their answers.
When you need a pick-me-up, help relaxing after a hard day or even a distraction from pain while working on a project, turn on some music.
Music activates your limbic system, the “emotional brain,” which controls emotions, memories and the senses. Music triggers the release of chemicals that can influence your sleep cycles, moods and other factors that contribute to a range of physical and emotional benefits.
Researchers agree – meditation can help with a host of health problems. “Relaxing and quieting your mind by focusing on your breathing can reduce stress – even the stress that comes with arthritis flares,” says David E. Yocum, MD, director of the Arizona Arthritis Center in Tucson. His studies, as well as others, found that patients who meditated responded to stress with lower heart rates and improved immune function; and that meditation, in combination with traditional medicines, appears to help patients with chronic pain. Studies have shown that meditation inhibits or relieves pain perception. And in a study published in the American Academy of Pain Medicine’s scientific journal in April 2015, 43 patients who used a mindfulness meditation program as part of their pain management experienced lower general anxiety and depression, better mental quality of life (psychological well-being), a greater feeling of control of the pain, and higher pain acceptance.
Continue reading Easy Meditation Options for Pain
Just because the trees are bare and there’s a chill in the air doesn’t mean you have to forgo those daily walks outside for the dreaded treadmill. Anything but! In fact, outdoor walking during winter may have surprising benefits for people with arthritis. In addition to the decreased pain and disability you get from walking, stepping out in winter air can also:
Keep bones strong
Like bears, people tend to hibernate during the winter and, as a result, get too little sunlight, explains Lynn Millar, PhD, chair and professor of physical therapy at Winston-Salem State University in N.C. That’s too bad for bones. Sun exposure triggers vitamin D production in the skin, and bones need the “sunshine vitamin” to make the body absorb bone-strengthening calcium properly. Not getting outside during winter months slows down production and decreases the body’s store of vitamin D.
In a perfect world, pain wouldn’t exist, our weight would be optimal and we’d enjoy daily exercise and have energy to spare. But as arthritis pain and stiffness invade joints, the desire to exercise and the energy for much of anything can wane.
The world is not perfect, but there are ways to manage weight, minimize pain and improve energy levels. By changing habits, anyone can make small changes that will have a big impact over time.
Not sure where to start? We asked experts to help compile this top 10 list of habits to adopt.
Meditation includes many different practices of focused thinking and relaxation and studies show it can help people with arthritis. No matter what technique you choose, the goal is to improve coping strategies for pain and reduce symptoms like stress and anxiety. Maybe you’ve even tried it – but two minutes felt like two hours and after each 20-minute session, the result was the same: You created a mental to-do list and had a sore behind. You’re not alone.
“We are so used to multitasking that we find it difficult to sit down and turn off our thoughts,” explains Scott Zashin, MD, a rheumatologist and clinical assistant professor of internal medicine at University of Texas Southwestern Medical School at Dallas. “Meditation is not a quick fix; it takes time.”