Living with Rheumatoid Arthritis can be stressful. The pain, fatigue and uncertainty take a toll. Too much stress can precipitate the onset of Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA), but will also make symptoms worse. Finding healthy ways to manage stress should be your top priority.
In this article, I’ll explain 10 proven and effective methods to reduce stress if you have Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA). These practical tips can help you feel more relaxed, focused and in control of your disease.
1- Practice Deep Breathing Exercises
Taking slow, full breaths triggers your body’s “relaxation response.” It lowers blood pressure, hea
rt rate and tension.
Try square breathing: Inhale for 4 counts, hold for 4 counts, exhale for 4 counts. Repeat. This steady rhythm soothes the nervous system.
Make deep breathing part of your daily routine. It only takes a few minutes but makes a big difference.
2- Try Progressive Muscle Relaxation
This technique involves tensing and releasing different muscle groups. Tighten a muscle for 5 seconds, then relax for 30 seconds. Repeat with other muscle groups.
Progressive muscle relaxation reduces anxiety and body tension. It brings awareness to where you hold stress. Best of all, you can do it lying down!
3- Maintain a Gratitude Journal
Writing down things you feel grateful for each day shifts your focus to the positive. Look for small joys and blessings, not just big ones.
Studies show that keeping a gratitude journal reduces depression and anxiety in chronic illness. It rewires your brain to focus less on pain and stressors.
4- Avoid Constant Complaining
It’s healthy to talk about what’s frustrating you. But avoid falling into the habit of complaining all the time. This keeps you stuck in negativity.
Instead of just venting, reframe complaints into problem solving. “This issue is frustrating. What are some ways I could improve it?” This empowers you.
5- Join Online Rheumatoid Arthritis Support Groups
Connecting with others who understand what you’re going through is calming. Join RA Facebook groups or online forums to share tips and encouragement. Support groups reduce feelings of loneliness. You realize you’re not alone in dealing with rheumatoid arthritis stressors. If you are interested, I have started a Rheumatoid Arthritis Warriors Support Group on Facebook where you will meet people just like you. Check it out!
6- Incorporate Mindfulness
Mindfulness means staying focused on the present moment without judgment. Notice sights, sounds, smells and sensations around you.
Mindfulness reduces worrying about the future or dwelling on the past. Anxiety decreases and enjoyment of the moment increases.
7- Establish a Relaxation Routine
Carve out relaxation time every day, even if it’s just 15 minutes. Do an activity you enjoy like reading, stretching, crafting or listening to music.
Prioritizing self-care is key for rheumatoid arthritis patients. A daily relaxation routine lowers stress and boosts mood.
8- Try Restorative Yoga Poses
Gentle, restorative yoga focuses on relaxing the body rather than fitness. Hold poses using props like blankets and bolsters to release muscle tension. Deep breathing is emphasized. Studies show restorative yoga lowers stress hormones and anxiety in chronic pain patients. It calms the nervous system.
9- Learn Basic Meditation
Meditation clears the mind and promotes relaxation. Close your eyes and focus on your breathing. When thoughts enter your mind, observe them then let them drift away. Even 5-10 minutes of meditation per day can ease rheumatoid arthritis anxiety and pain. Meditation improves focus and sleep too.
10- Do a Body Scan
A body scan is a mindfulness technique where you slowly notice sensations throughout your entire body without judging them.
Bringing awareness to areas of tension and consciously relaxing them relieves stress stored in the body. Body scans promote inner peace.
Make Stress Management Part of Your Rheumatoid Arthritis Self-Care Routine
Dealing with rheumatoid arthritis is truly challenging. Be kind to yourself. Make stress management part of your daily self-care routine. Experiment with different relaxation techniques to find what works best for you. Just taking a few minutes to breathe, stretch or meditate makes a difference.
Prioritize your mental health along with your physical health on your rheumatoid arthritis journey. Staying calm and focused helps everything feel more manageable. You’ve got this!
At Rheumatologist OnCall, we are committed to providing a holistic and patient-centric approach for individuals living with Rheumatoid Arthritis. Our approach goes beyond conventional care by emphasizing the mind-body connection. Our comprehensive method involves the creation of personalized treatment plans that encompass crucial components, including nutritional education, physical therapy sessions, and mindfulness techniques. We believe in fostering a profound one-on-one connection with our patients, recognizing the essential role the mind-body connection plays in achieving well-being.