No matter what form or severity of arthritis you have, setting goals can be the first step to taking control of your disease. When setting goals, keep the following in mind:
- Make your goals specific, realistic and attainable. You can set goals to help you improve your daily life, such as walking for 10 minutes or eating five vegetables per day.
- Allow yourself to adjust your goals as you need to. For example, a flare may necessitate a drop in the amount of exercise you can do each day. Or you may be able to increase the amount of time as you get more fit.
- Also, if you fail to meet a daily goal, forgive yourself, refocus and start fresh the next day.
In addition you can create more long-term goals. These goals could be getting an accurate dignosis, understanding more about your condition or joining a support group.
The following are suggestions you might use to get you started down the path to creating your own goals.
- Talk to your doctor. You may be like many others who know they have arthritis, but aren't sure what kind. An accurate diagnosis is the first step to creating a treatment plan that works for you.
- Start an exercise program. Write your exercise goals down so you can check off each successful day and track your progress. Remember some of the most successful exercise programs start with as little as 10 minutes a day. Begin with what you can do. If you need help, the Arthritis Foundation's Walk With Ease program will teach you how to develop a program just for you or get a copy of our free brochure, Exercise and Your Arthritis.
- Find out more about your disease. Visit your local library or purchase books about your condition. The more you know about your disease, the better equipped you are to live successfully with it. You can find several selections in the Arthritis Store.
- Join a support group. Sharing your feelings with a group of people who understand how your disease affects all aspects of your life can help you better manage your life. Join the discussions on the Arthritis Foundation message boards or contact your local Arthritis Foundation office to find out about support groups in your area.
- Investigate treatment options. Learn more about the medications you are taking for your arthritis. Consider how they may interact with other medications you are taking. Discuss with your doctor if you want to make any changes or try an alternative treatment.
- Eat a more healthful diet. Maintaining your ideal body weight and eating a variety of foods, including fresh fruits and vegetables, will help you feel better and have more energy. Talk to your doctor or a nutritionist about how you can improve your diet.
- Keep a journal. Write down your feelings and track your arthritis symptoms. They can help you better understand how you deal with your disease and talk to your doctor about the progress of your treatment program. Toward Healthy Living, the Arthritis Foundation's wellness journal, can get you started.
- Join an exercise class. The best way to stick to an exercise program is to have a friend or a group of people to exercise with. Call your local Arthritis Foundation office to find out about exercise classes offered in your area.
- Get help. Read books and brochures that will help you better manage your condition. Also, talk to others about what you learn. Let friends and family members know about your goals and ask them to support you in reaching them. Or join the Arthritis Foundation message boards to find someone to talk to about your specific goals.