Living with a long-term health condition like arthritis can affect all aspects of our wellbeing, including physical, social, mental and emotional. Each of these dimensions of health influences and supports the other. We know that stress, tension and anxiety can increase joint pain, affect energy levels and healthy sleep.
We have put together some useful tips to help you take care of your mental and emotional wellbeing which in turn will support your pain management, energy levels and quality of sleep during this stressful and difficult time that we are all experiencing with COVID-19 and the national lockdown.
Just because we can’t physically be with our loved ones does not mean we can’t stay connected. Phone them, video call them, send texts and keep talking to one another. We know that healthy relationships help us thrive.
Filter your information feed
You don’t have to follow every news channel or website and feed your anxiety with all of the fake news and negativity that circles on social media. If information overload is making you miserable or anxious, stop going to it. Pick one news source and keep an eye on the COVID-19 website for important information. Don’t look for things to make you more anxious. Choose cheerful films or TV shows, follow people that make you laugh on social media and mute the rest for 30 days (yes, you can do that on Facebook!).
Notice the beauty around you
Normally we are so focused on getting where we need to be that we miss the little things. Notice the sunrise and sunset, listen to the birds, inspect beautiful flowers, watch the little insect going about its business. Take nature in and be happy that the Earth is healing while we are locked away.
Use this time to learn
Learn the things you have been putting off until you have more time. The time has come! There is a YouTube how-to video for just about everything. You can do some professional development too – take that online course you have been putting aside, follow thought-leaders in your professional field, update your LinkedIn professional profile, read scholarly articles and learn as much you can, so that we can all go back into the workforce armed to help the economy recover quickly!
Pick a routine
Children and babies do better when their days are structured, and adults are no different. We cope better when we know what to expect. Routine helps us to plan and know what to do next. Keep to your old one or start a new one.
This is especially important for people with arthritis. There are many at-home exercises you can do (see our YouTube playlist for a few ideas). Keep the joints moving, and remember – you can go for a walk with the people in your bubble – just keep your social distance from other people outside.
Take your medication
Doctors have recommended you keep taking your medication unless otherwise directed by your own doctor.
Remember, we are all in this together. There are 670,000 other people with arthritis in New Zealand who know how you feel – see if you can connect with some of them by joining a private Facebook group: