Everyone has stress, but letting it pile up can have physical effects. If you suffer from a painful condition like osteoarthritis (OA) — a degenerative joint disease characterized by the deterioration of the cartilage in your joints over time — the extra stress can add to the pain you already feel in your hands, knees, and other joints.
Follow these 10 simple tips and you could be on your way to reducing the stress in your life and easing the pain you feel from osteoarthritis.
Easy walks, swimming, and biking can all help reduce stress in your life. Exercise can take your mind off the day's worries. Even better, exercise helps release endorphins, which are neurotransmitters that give us a "happy boost." As with any exercise, ease into it and consult your doctor to make sure you won't add strain to your body's current pain.
Eat Well, Lose Weight
Being overweight adds to the physical strain on your body and can cause further pain in your joints. By changing your diet and incorporating exercise into your daily routine, you can naturally lose weight and reduce overall stress. Add fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and food high in omega-3 fatty acids like salmon, walnuts, and olive oil to your diet.
Regular massages are a fantastic way to relieve stress. Massage from a trained therapist can be beneficial for numerous conditions. A person with OA might find that an hour on a massage table can loosen muscles and joints and provide temporary pain relief.
Proponents of acupuncture, a part of traditional Chinese medicine, say the treatment allows your body's energy to flow more openly by strategically placing thin needles into specific points in your skin. Advocates claim that by helping your internal energy flow, you can reduce stress and possibly heal specific pain.
Keep a Journal
When things build up inside us and we don't talk about them, our stress levels rise and can cause other physical problems to manifest. By keeping a journal, you give yourself a personal outlet to purge your mind of the negativity. After you write, go back and read your entry aloud to yourself to further push it out of your mind.
Wine and a Bath
Pour a glass of wine, light some candles, and descend into a warm bath or whirlpool spa. Setting aside this type of time may seem trivial but it’s important to relax and lower stress in a private environment. Also, red wine contains an antioxidant called resveratrol that may reduce damage to blood vessels and prevent blood clots. The warm water in the tub can provide temporary relief of some joint pain. Add bath salts to your soak to increase relaxation. We recommend Epsom salt for its natural pain-relieving abilities.
People have been practicing yoga for centuries, and its impact still has great relevance today. Performing hatha or Iyengar yoga helps stretch your muscles and build strength, both of which are beneficial to people with OA. Yoga supporters also feel it brings internal harmony to your body while relaxing your mind. If you practice yoga even once a week for 90 minutes, it can help reduce stress in your joints and ease pain.
Meditation helps calm your mind. Start by either sitting on the floor in a cross-legged position or in a chair with both feet on the floor. Take deep breaths and try to focus on a point in your mind, clearing your thoughts. The meditative act will help you slow your breathing and focus your attention away from burdensome thoughts.
Channel your stress into a creative outlet, like photography or painting. Sitting down at a canvas or taking a camera out with you on a walk in the city or countryside lets you focus your attention in a creative space.
Volunteer with Children (and Laugh!)
Kids often have the ability to make us laugh with their infinite energy and imaginations, and laughter has proven benefits that can aid in reducing stress and tension in the body. When you laugh, you release powerful endorphins that deliver warm feelings, further relaxing you and your muscles.