Best Stress Relievers for Arthritis

Use these tried-and-true tension relievers when arthritis has you all worked up.

1. Find Your Calm
Living with the pain, stiffness and fatigue of arthritis plus the side effects of medication can be stressful. But it’s important to remember that stress itself can trigger arthritis symptoms. Here are some ways to improve your mood and beat the stress.
2. Just Breathe
Sit in a comfortable chair with your feet on the floor and your arms at your sides. Close your eyes. Breathe in deeply, saying, “I am …” then breathe out saying, “… relaxed.” Continue to breathe slowly, silently repeating something to yourself such as, “I feel calm … and at peace.”
3. Move More
Exercise helps reduce pain, improve sleep, increase energy and improve day-to-day functioning – all things that help reduce stress. Walking is an easy way to get started. The Arthritis Foundation offers Walk With Ease, a walking program designed for people with arthritis.
4. Use Your Imagination
Close your eyes. Take a deep breath and hold it for several seconds. Breathe out slowly, feeling your body relax. Think about a place where you feel comfortable – how it looks, smells, sounds and feels. Take several deep breaths and enjoy feeling peaceful before opening your eyes.
5. Enjoy Simple Pleasures
Relax in a warm bath with your favorite bath salts and a bath pillow. Drink a soothing cup of herbal tea. Cozy up to the fire and read. Sit on your porch and watch the sun set. Walk along the beach. Find your favorite activity and repeat as needed.
6. Talk it Out
Share thoughts and feelings with family, friends or others who are good listeners and can help you see problems that cause stress. You may even consider joining a support group of people living with arthritis. The Arthritis Foundation Live Yes! Arthritis community can help you get started.
7. Tense and Relax
Close your eyes. Breathe slowly in and out. Beginning with your feet and calves, slowly tense your muscles. Hold for several seconds, and then relax the muscles. Work your way up your body using the same technique and continue breathing deeply. Listen to your body and stop if this approach causes pain.
8. Embrace Your Inner Artist
Whether you’re a novice or pro, creative outlets such as painting, sketching, pottery and needlework can help alleviate stress. Find free or inexpensive classes or check out how-to videos online.
9. Harness the Mind-Body Connection

Yoga and tai chi are ancient practices combining deep breathing, meditation and gentle, flowing movement. Studies show that both are great stress relievers. The Arthritis Foundation offers yoga and tai chi DVDs specifically designed for people with arthritis.
10. Know Your Priorities
Deciding what has to be done and what can wait is an important part of managing daily stress. Ask yourself, “What must I do right away? What can I postpone or eliminate? What can be done by someone else?”
11. Express Yourself
Writing about your thoughts and feelings can reduce inner conflict and provide a better sense of emotional balance. The purpose of expressive writing is to process thoughts and feelings. Start by choosing an issue that you are working through and write it about for four consecutive days in sessions of about 30 minutes.
12. Listen to the Music
According to researchers at the Florida Atlantic University College of Nursing, listening to slow-tempo classical music may ease pain from arthritis. The study showed that participants’ pain and stress levels decreased.
13. Enjoy the Great Outdoors
No exercise required – just go outside and enjoy. Listen to the birds singing, kids playing and soak up the sun. A rainy day? No worries – listen to the gentle sound of the rain falling on your roof.

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