Feb 15, 2019
Eight Steps for Finding your Joy with Arthritis
Sadly, joy may seem like a distant emotion that got lost in the hustle and bustle of coping with arthritis. Now your focus is on managing pain, attending doctors’ appointments, fighting fatigue, and dealing with paperwork. A new lifestyle that you never asked for is taking precedence as you are struggling to navigate the unknown. With all this happening how are you supposed to focus on having fun, being happy, or feeling joy? Luckily, there are ways to feel joyful again. Here are eight simple steps for getting your life back and finding your joy with arthritis.
Sometimes you won’t have a choice; arthritis can force you to slow down even if you don’t want to. Slowing down doesn’t mean you are giving up or letting arthritis win. It only means you are accepting the limitations of your body and respecting this. It doesn’t always mean physically slowing down, either. Slowing down can mean putting away your phone or computer and venturing outside to sit in the sunshine and breath in fresh air. Take a walk on the beach and reflect on life. Relax on the couch with a book or binge on your favorite television show. Whatever your version of “slowing down” means, enjoy it!
Gratitude rewires our brains and helps us see what we have, rather than focusing on what we don’t. It’s a great way to shift from being anxious and stressed to calm and collected. If you learn to practice gratitude it will allow you to grow and progress, which is key when attempting to maneuver through a difficult time. Remember that finding gratitude while in pain will take time and patience. But when you get comfortable with it, gratitude can be extraordinary. When you reflect on one good thing that is happening, you will focus on other good things in your life, leading you to feel more joy rather than anger or despair.
Get excited about your achievements, no matter how small. If it’s difficult for you to make your bed or fold the laundry, but you managed to do it- celebrate it! The key to finding joy with arthritis is realizing that big achievements aren’t going to happen overnight, and that’s okay. We tend to focus on the end goals rather than enjoying the small but significant steps we take to get us there.
Take care of yourself.
We live in a fast-paced society with busy schedules that don’t really allow time for slowing down or taking care of ourselves. Instead we push ourselves to the point where our bodies say no more. Arthritis sufferers have to change this mindset and make self-care a priority. At first it will seem selfish or uncomfortable, but if you keep at it your body and mind will thank you. When you aren’t so busy and stressed, you will feel better. And feeling better will allow you to feel joy in ways that you have not been able to before. Reserve 10 minutes of your day to stop and sit in the quiet and feel peace. Or set aside some time every day to write positive reflections in a journal. Dedicate some quality time to chat and laugh with your husband or wife.
Remind yourself that you are more than your illness.
Your health is just one part of who you are and arthritis does not define you. While arthritis may connect itself in all facets of your life, it is not your entire life. Other things are still happening all around you. Look for those things and appreciate them. Feeling terrible all day and focusing on the negative is exhausting. Make a point to look beyond your illness to find that joy that is present in so many other areas of your life.
Find your purpose.
Maybe it has something to do with arthritis and maybe it doesn’t. Whatever it is, find your purpose. Think about things that you are naturally drawn to, the things that others compliment you on, or the things you are passionate about, and explore those things. It doesn’t have to be anything extravagant, just search for the little things that can bring you so much joy.
Make joyful connections.
Surround yourself with genuine people that just bask in your joy. These are the people that will celebrate those small achievements with you, that will help you find your purpose, or tell you it’s okay to put yourself first. Take the time to enjoy and appreciate them and then give that gift right back.
Spend time with your doctor.
When it comes to living your best life with arthritis, the best support system you can have is your rheumatology team. Support and education provided by your arthritis doctor is always your best resource. If you have any questions on your physical or mental health, call the team at Carolina Arthritis today. We would love to be a part of your support system and help you live your best and more joyful life!
Joy is a feeling that is always evolving and changing. What brings you joy today may be different tomorrow. But always continue searching for it and keep sharing it with others. While finding your joy can be work, living with joy is something that those with arthritis deserve.