Can stress cause inflammation? Yes. And when you happen to have a chronic condition, it will have a significant impact on how you manage your illness. This is why it’s so important to prevent stress.
For anyone who suffers from osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis, stress can cause you to feel increased pain, make you more prone to flare ups, and overall, make it more difficult to cope with the challenges the condition imposes on your way of life. While researchers still don’t fully understand how stress affects arthritis, scientists theorize that the overproduction of cytokines during moments of stress cause inflammation in the body. In addition, stress can add to muscle tension, which affects your joints and increase pain.
Unfortunately, stress is an inevitable part of life. And people who deal with arthritis have no choice but confront the same kind of stress that healthy people face on a daily basis, on top of the daily challenges their illness presents. That said, being an arthritis sufferer means you have to be more conscious of how stress affects your body. You don’t want every little thing—traffic, bad weather, or missing your alarm—to send your stress levels to skyrocket. And in the same way that you’ve developed techniques and strategies to help you manage your illness better, you also have to learn ways to manage daily stress and prevent it from compounding an already difficult chronic condition.
Here’s our simple guide to doing just that—
Prevent stress tip #1: Give yourself a positive mantra
Something as simple as saying positive phrases and saying them out loud to affirm your outlook can help a lot in terms of managing stress. Pause, take a deep breath, and remind yourself of your courage and your strength.
This is something that lot of arthritis sufferers tend to overlook, especially since the burden of our illness can be very overwhelming. But once in a while, it’s important to remind yourself that you are stronger and more resilient by going through what others can only imagine.
Prevent stress tip #2: Get as much exercise as you can
Working out, even if it’s something as simple as gentle stretching or low impact, leisurely walks, is a great way to manage tension. Remember, exercise doesn’t have to be strenuous or hard to be effective. Whether you go for a relaxing swim or join a yoga class, exercise helps you burn off excess energy to help you sleep at night and gives you a boost of much needed endorphins, which helps improve your mood. Our advice? Try to stick to a regular routine—not only are you doing something to manage tension build-up, you’re also strengthening your joints at the same time.
Prevent stress tip #3: Give yourself a break
Arthritis sufferers tend to put a lot of pressure on themselves—consciously and unconsciously. You make an effort to not be a burden to loved ones given your new limitations; you worry about how your limited mobility will affect you and your family down the line; and you constantly stress about the pain and hassle that bad days inevitably bring. But you need to give yourself a break. Sure, arthritis can be a debilitating and challenging disease, but it’s one that we can manage.
Take a step back and focus on what you can do instead of what you can’t. And never be afraid or embarrassed to ask for help. Family and friends are more than willing to lend a hand and be there for you.
Do you have any tips on how to manage stress as an arthritis sufferer? Do share it with and leave us a comment below.