8 Good Habits Help People With Arthritis Get Through the Day

Positive Actions Yield Positive Results

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People who have arthritis or any other chronic pain condition know how disruptive it can be. Arthritis pain and physical limitations can make usual daily activities very difficult. But, as you know, life doesn't stop. We still have certain roles and responsibilities that won't necessarily wait until we feel better. The best we can hope for is a good start to each day and the necessary stamina to get through the day.

It is often said that positive actions yield positive results. Have you ever thought about which positive actions would serve you well if they became daily habits? Here are 8 habits that may help people with arthritis get through the day. It is something to aim for, even if each day can't be an "8 out of 8" day.

1 - Get Up in the Morning With a Positive Attitude

Sounds great, right? Who doesn't want to get up each day feeling positive? More specifically, I mean that you need to discover and focus on whatever it is that allows you to feel positive when you wake up. Discover what takes you to that positive place. Is it that your family needs you? Are your co-workers depending on you? Are you a person of faith? If yes, would reading verses in the morning (or the night before) inspire positivity? The Mayo Clinic suggests that positive thinking is better for our health and allows us to better cope with stressful situations.

Somehow, wrap your mind around being positive.

2 - Don't Rush in the Morning

Many of us set our alarm clock to allow for as much sleep as possible. Some people are huge fans of the "snooze button" which doles out 5 or 10 extra minutes of sleep before there is no choice but to get up. But, with that approach, we are forcing ourselves to rush through showering, dressing, grabbing coffee or a quick breakfast, feeding the pets, and whatever else must be done.

Rushing is stressful! Slow down. Allow enough time so you don't have to rush. That might mean you need to go to bed earlier. Also, be sure you allow yourself time in the morning to take a leisurely warm or hot shower to soothe your joints -- a necessity for people with arthritis.

3 - Don't Forget to Take Your Medications

This doesn't require a great deal of explanation. To state the obvious, your arthritis medications are not going to work unless you take them. There is a therapeutic level that must be achieved for medications to be effective and if you skip doses, you may not achieve optimal benefits. Determine the best time to take your medications and stick to the plan.

4 - Eat a Healthful Diet - Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Eat well is advice for everyone, not just those with a chronic pain condition. It is most important, though, for a person who feels depleted by chronic pain to boost their energy level in ways they can control (e.g., a healthful diet).

If you have an inflammatory type of arthritis, it may also be beneficial to pay attention to an anti-inflammatory diet.

Certain foods may increase inflammation while others may reduce inflammation.

5 - Protect Your Joints

As you go through your day, you will stress and strain your joints. Unconsciously, that is. We don't even think about how we move. We just move. For people with arthritis, it is important to pay attention. By protecting our joints, we can reduce the stress on arthritic joints and can decrease pain. There are several joint protection principles which help to conserve energy and preserve joint function. The principles are largely just common sense. Remember to be mindful of how you move and learn to recognize body signals, such as pain.

6 - Pace Your Activities

Don't overdo activities to the point of increasing pain levels, risking a flare up of arthritis symptoms, or becoming overwhelmingly fatigued. While this is common sense, it seems like one of the most difficult things to do -- to know when enough is enough and when to pull out the white flag and surrender. Learn how to pace your activities and learn to not go beyond the point of no return.

7 - Participate in Regular Exercise

This is advice that is also given to everyone, not just those with chronic arthritis pain. According to the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, 60 minutes of physical aerobic activity daily is recommended for children ages 6-17 and 30 minutes daily for adults ages 18-64. That does not take into account diseases and conditions, physical limitations, or disability. But, clearly, appropriate movement and exercise is important for people with arthritis as well. The key is determining what is "appropriate" for you. Talk to your doctor and perhaps request a physical therapy consult to determine appropriate exercise in your specific case.

8 - Relax, Meditate, Decompress

You have made it through the day! And, you have done everything right -- you started the day off with a warm shower and didn't rush, took your medications, ate well, protected your joints, paced your activities, exercised -- and did it all with a positive attitude. It's nighttime now and you need to relax. Do whatever allows you to decompress before you go to bed and start the cycle all over again. Some people like to read. Others benefit from listening to music or meditation. Find what it is for you and work it into your nightly routine. You have earned some "me time". Enjoy it. It will be morning again before you know it.

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