If you live with arthritis, you’re not alone. In fact, arthritis affects more than 54 million people across the United States. And it can impact anyone at any age – from older men and women to children and even babies. But an arthritis diagnosis doesn’t mean that you have to stop enjoying the activities you love. With the right support behind you, you can manage your arthritis and maintain the lifestyle you want. We have some tips to balance your physical, mental and spiritual health to thrive while getting the care that you need.
Build Your Strength with Regular Exercise
Stiff, painful and achy joints can make it difficult to move around the house. The last thing you may want to do is exercise. But research shows that regular exercise can help strengthen your joints and bones and reduce arthritis flare-ups. Plus, physical activity improves heart health, circulation, cognition, mood and also helps you relieve stress.
Work with your doctor to create a safe exercise plan that’s right for you. Discuss adding low-impact exercises to your day such as:
- Gentle stretches
- Riding a bike
- Strength training with light weights or resistance bands
Focus on a Healthy Diet
A well-balanced diet is an important part of any healthy lifestyle for every person. Research suggests that certain foods may even help fight inflammation, boost the immune system and strengthen bones, which can help ease your arthritis symptoms.
The next time you head to the grocery store, add these foods to your cart, incorporate them into a new recipe and see if you can feel the difference:
- Beans are high in fiber and a great source of protein. Fiber can help lower C-reactive protein (CRP) in the body, which has been linked to inflammation, diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis.
- Broccoli is high in vitamins K and C and sulforaphane, which may prevent or slow osteoarthritis.
- Cherries are high in anthocyanins, which can help reduce inflammation.
- Citrus fruits can help prevent flare-ups with just the right amount of vitamin C.
- Fish high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, tuna, mackerel and herring.
- Garlic has a powerful compound called diallyl disulphine that may limit enzymes that damage cartilage.
- Low-fat dairy to strengthen bones and improve bone health.
- Nuts are a great, healthy snack that can help reduce symptoms from osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
- Olive, avocado, safflower and walnut oils are healthy options to flavor foods or sauté meals.
- Soybeans are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which can help fight inflammation.
- Whole grain– a staple in every healthy diet – has lower levels of CRP than white or enriched grains to help protect joint health.
An arthritis diagnosis is the perfect opportunity to start putting your needs first — physically, mentally and spiritually. Your whole health is key to managing your condition and coping with days that may be harder than others. Here are a few simple self-care tips to boost your whole health and wellness.
Connect with Your Faith
Spiritual health often goes far beyond places of worship. It’s about connecting to something greater than ourselves: That could be hope, love, peace or a specific purpose. Make time to connect with your faith, whatever it may be. Spiritual health improves your resiliency and can help you cope with a chronic condition like arthritis.
Make Time for You
Life is busy. Don’t let responsibilities, errands and appointments pile up and keep you from enjoying your favorite, relaxing activities. Draw a bath, book or massage or curl up on the couch with a good book. Taking a break from your to-do list is good for the body, mind and spirit. Ask for help from a close friend or family member when you need to take a little “you” time.
Share Your Feelings
A built-in support system can make it easier to manage the good and bad days. Sharing your feelings with a loved one can help you better cope with your arthritis symptoms. So pick up the phone when the going gets tough, or journal to get your feelings on paper.
Feel Empowered and in Control
Write down each doctor’s appointment on a calendar. Create reminders to take medication on your smartphone. Schedule time to exercise or connect with friends. Staying on top of appointments and medicines can help relieve the stress and help you stay on track with achieving your health and wellness goals.
Keep Moving Forward
Arthritis shouldn’t stop you from enjoying what matters most. Put yourself and your physical, mental and spiritual health first so you can maintain your lifestyle and whatever comes your way.
If you need support to thrive with an arthritis diagnosis, we’re here to guide you. You can find your AdventHealth expert here.