Keep a positive attitude. Arthritis may limit some of the things you can do, but it doesn’t have to control your life. One way to reduce your pain is to build your life around wellness, not pain or sickness. This means
- thinking positive thoughts
- having a sense of humor
- eating a balanced diet
- exercising regularly
- surrounding yourself with positive people
- enjoying activities with family and friends.
It also means following your treatment plan, taking your medication properly and practicing relaxation.
Don’t focus on pain. How often do you think about your pain? The amount of time you spend thinking about pain has a lot to do with how much discomfort you feel. People who dwell on their pain usually say their pain is worse than those who don’t dwell on it. One way to take your mind off pain is to focus on something else.
Everyone has the ability to distract themselves from pain. The mor e you focus on something outside your body, such as a hobby or other activity, the less you will be aware of physical discomfort. If you can’t avoid thinking about the pain, try to think of it differently. Think of pain as your body’s message to do something different. For example, if your pain is worse after sitting for a period of time, your body may be telling you to get up and move around.
Practice positive self-talk. What we say to our selves often determines what we do and how we look at life. For example, you may come home from work and think, “I don’t want to exercise today. It’s cloudy outside, there’s no one to walk with, and besides, I’ve already exercised twice this week.” Or perhaps you approach the situation from a different perspective and think, “I don’t feel like exercising today, but I know I’ll feel better afterward and have an easier time falling asleep.”
Both of these are examples that illustrate the self-talk approach, and each can affect the way you feel pain. Negative messages can lead to increased pain, while positive messages can help distract you from pain.
Changing negative self-talk to positive self-talk can be a challenge. To make the change, follow these three steps:
- Make a list of your negative self-talk statements.
- Change each negative statement to a positive one. For example, “I’m tired and don’t feel like attending my support group tonight, but if I don’t go I might miss out on some good tips like the ones I learned last month. I can always leave the meeting a little early.”
- Practice positive self-talk. At first it may seem awkward, but you’ll soon discover what a difference it can make.
Change your pain habits. It’ s easy to slip into the habit of taking more medicine or relying on unhealthy practices, such as drinking alcohol, to escape pain. If you answer “yes” to any of the questions below, you should consider some new ways to handle your pain.
- Do you finish a bottle of pain medicine faster than you used to?
- Do you spend a lot of time in bed, aside from your regular sleep time?
- Do you drink alcohol to ease your pain?
- Do you talk about pain or arthritis much of the time?
Changing your habits for dealing with pain will help you feel better. One way to make a change is to do something positive in place of the old habit. Reinforce your behavior change by rewarding yourself each time you do something positive – perhaps by spending some extra time in a soothing whirlpool or taking an additional 10 minutes to read the morning newspaper. Discuss these habits with your doctor, nurse or other health professional that specializes in pain management. Ask about additional ways to manage pain.