How Stress Affects Your Flare-Ups
Living with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is always a challenge, but you can experience more painful
during times of stress. By taking steps to relieve your stress, you can reduce your RA symptoms and feel better equipped to meet life’s challenges.
Understanding Cause and Effect
Some people with arthritis insist their symptoms only started after a stressful life event like a divorce, job loss or death in the family. While that may be true, it’s difficult for medical researchers to quantify because every person experiences stress differently. Regardless of how your RA developed, managing your stress can reduce flare-ups. Here are several tips:
Identify your stress triggers and share the way you feel about them with those closest to you.
When possible, delegate tasks to others, hire help or drop non-essential activities.
Learn how to say no for better time management.
Don’t give in to the temptation to take the edge off your stress with drugs or alcohol.
Set small goals each day to help give you a better sense of control.
Keep a sense of humor and reach out to others for help when you need it.
Include Exercise in Your Daily Routine
It can be difficult to feel the motivation to exercise when you’re experiencing the pain of an RA flare-up. Even so, we encourage you to at least take a short walk if you’re not up to more intense aerobic exercise or strength training. In addition to keeping your joints more mobile, regular exercise reduces stress and pain while also boosting positive moods at the same time. Don’t forget to make time for hobbies as well.
Consider Specific Lifestyle Changes
Smoking is just one common example of a lifestyle habit that can make RA worse. Not only does it increase your risk of lung cancer and make breathing more challenging, and smoking can also reduce the effectiveness of your medications. If you have tried to quit in the past without much success, discuss new options with your doctor, such as a smoking cessation program.
A consistent pattern of not getting enough sleep can also make your RA symptoms worse. Going to bed at the same time each night and getting up at the same time in the morning can make you more resilient to pain and stress. It’s also a good idea to turn off all electronics at least one hour before bedtime to calm your mind and prepare your body for sleep.
If a problem comes up consistently, such as pain while typing or using kitchen utensils, you will need to become creative with solutions. Creating documents with voice recognition might be one option while using kitchen utensils with a larger gripping area can make both cooking and eating easier.
Arthritis Center of Lexington is Here to Help
If you are struggling with constant flare-ups and are not already a patient of ACLKY, speak with your primary doctor and obtain a referral for ACLKY today!