When arthritis pain strikes, it may be tempting to withdraw and crawl back into bed. But giving in to this feeling may worsen the pain, says Marni Amsellem, PhD, a Connecticut and New York-based clinical health psychologist. Instead, having a list of mood boosters is a better way to cope with arthritis pain, she says. A fun activity can take your mind off the pain and brighten your outlook.
Here’s some suggestions to help get you started:
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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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Ever left a family holiday gathering churning with tension and swearing that, next year, you’re going somewhere far, far away? These events sometimes ratchet up anxiety and stress, which are not only unpleasant but also can undermine your health and well-being. Take heart. Here, three experts offer different approaches to help you keep the peace and ward off stress.
Continue reading Peace Talk: Preserving Family Harmony During the Holidays
Family gatherings can be occasions to celebrate – or to dread. You look forward to seeing some relatives, but others leave you stressed.
The first step is to take care of yourself, says clinical psychologist Ramani Durvasula, PhD, a professor at California State University, Los Angeles.
“Protect your time and space,” she says. “Get your own room at a hotel or Airbnb [if you’re traveling]. Explain that you can’t stay up late.” When you’re rested and in control of your arthritis, you can more easily deal with annoyances and enjoy this “most wonderful time of the year.”
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The holidays can be full of fun and good cheer, but it can also usher in extra health risks if you have arthritis. Try these tips to avoid them.
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If joint pain is keeping you up in the wee hours of the morning, tell your doctor so that she can determine if your arthritis meds are properly managing your symptoms. While your doctor may prescribe stronger pain meds, such as opioids, for short-term use, they come with many downsides and can leave you feeling sleepy the next day. For some people with chronic pain, low-dose antidepressants can help them sleep better by interrupting the pain cycle. You may have to try several medications before you find one that works for you.
Continue reading Arthritis Pain Causing Insomnia? Here’s What You Can Do