Reduce Stress and Pain at the Same Time
While everyone has stress in their lives, those with RA often have to deal with pain and other stresses (such as emotional and financial consequences of living with RA) on top of daily struggles.
But there are several ways those with RA can relax and de-stress that not only melt away the stress of the day, but help with RA pain, too.
Warm baths are both excellent for helping eliminate stress and easing the pain of RA joints. The warmth stimulates blood flow and helps reduce muscle spasms. Warm baths are also ideal for those who suffer with joint stiffness, as a long soak in the tub can help make joints more pliable and flexible.
Setting aside a good 20-30 minutes on a particularly stressful day is great for the mind and body. Using scented oils or bath bombs (in moderation, as they can contribute to thrush in women) is also a great way to promote relaxation through a bit of aromatherapy.
Light some candles, put on some of your favorite tunes or bring in your laptop (away from the bath, of course!) and catch up on one of your favorite TV series whilst you let the stress from the day melt away.
For many, exercise may be a four-letter word, but despite the pain associated with RA it is a fantastic way to relieve stress and even lessen pain by building up the muscles around your joints. Though it probably isn’t advisable to take on something that means slamming your joints into the ground (i.e. running, unless you’re confident you can do so without hurting yourself), there are plenty of ways you can get your exercise in.
It is important with RA that you do at least some weight bearing exercise, even though this admittedly can be quite painful. In order to reduce this, take an NSAID about an hour before you’ll be exercising.
The weight bearing exercise you participate in doesn’t need to be Olympic level, but taking short, brisk walks, riding a bike or going on the elliptical for a workout are all ways to help reduce stress. They can also help you keep your weight down, which will, in turn, help keep RA pain in check.
In addition to weight bearing exercise, swimming, yoga and tai chi are fantastic ways to get rid of stress, even on days when your joints are hurting. Slow movements or movements in the water help cushion your joints while strengthening your muscles.
Yoga classes are particularly beneficial, especially meditative yoga. They can help you focus on finding peace and reducing stress while doing some great gentle stretches that can help make your muscles even more flexible.
Next page: three more relaxation techniques for rheumatoid arthritis patients to try.