Although physical issues are the focus when it comes to severe pain, pain can also have an impact on mental health. It studies, it has been shown that people with chronic pain also experience higher levels of stress which could lead to more vulnerable predisposition to mental health concerns like depression and anxiety. Chronic pain, stress and mental health conditions are linked by the impact they have on our lives. An example of this is having fatigue and struggling with daily activities which contribute to mental health issues in chronic pain and arthritis conditions; consequently, depression and anxiety are common in people with painful joints. In a study that was carried out, research showed that 70% if people felt anxious and 69% felt depressed. It has been proven that stress can play a significant role in arthritis and mental health. 89% of people with arthritis report worrying about how arthritis affects their independence. Unfortunately, stress can also increase the inflammatory load on the body, particularly in this with rheumatoid arthritis which could results in a flare-up of symptoms and more pain.
It is important to maintain self-care to help manage any chronic condition and mental health. Even making small changes can make significant benefits. Listed below are a list of ways that can help boost your mental wellbeing:
Practice meditation and mindfulness.
It has been demonstrated that those who practice meditation regularly have had reduced pain and other symptoms of arthritis. As a result of this, it has been suggested that meditation can also improve symptoms of depression and can aid in stress management. Both meditation and mindfulness can be practised near enough anywhere. We suggest using free apps such as Headspace and Calm if you are new to this activity. If apps are not for you and you prefer doing it yourself, simply close your eyes and focus on your breathing. Each time you are aware of your mind wandering, bring your attractive back to your breathing. Start with only doing this for a few minutes a day and begin to build up when you are ready. A handy hint and tip from us is to try remembering a positive mindset can help manage various stress factors in your life.
Having a balance and nutritious diet is important for overall wellbeing. However, there are a few diets based changes that can help boost mental health. Try having a diet which contains plenty of naturally anti-inflammatory foods, through doing this it will help to manage your symptoms. Example of foods you could include more in your diet are fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, wholegrains and olive oil – ingredients that are all included in a Mediterranean-style diet. These foods are nutrient dense and contain compounds like antioxidants that have protective effects for the joints and brain. A Mediterranean style diet could also improve symptoms for those who have osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Following a Mediterranean diet, it also associated with better mental and physical wellbeing. Studies which have been carried out in the past have suggests that this type of diet could even help to manage the symptoms of anxiety and stress. An additional diet change that could have beneficial affects to your pain is increasing your intake of oily fish. It has been concluded from previous research that consuming fish at least 4 times a week can decrease inflammation, which could consequently help with pain and related symptoms. Another positive of having oily fish is that it can also improve mental health conditions such as depression.
Incorporating regular exercise.
For those who suffer from chronic pain, it can be common for them to avoid exercise as it could aggravate their symptoms. However, regular exercise can be a vital intervention for joint health and mental well-being. Research suggests that participating in regular exercise can improve depressive symptoms. In fact, in one meta-analysis that was carried out it was concluded that exercise can significantly reduce symptoms of anxiety. For those of you who suffer from chronic pain and are also not keen on exercise, regular exercise does in fact not need to be vigorous to have benefits. Studies have shown that sports like Tai Chi can improve symptoms of arthritis, balance and physical function. The main point to focus on is that it is super important for your body to move safely and consistently.
Issues around mental health are supper important and most definitely not to be ignored. So, if you are feeling overwhelmed and unable to cope with your symptoms, seeking help is vital. Please do not be afraid to speak to your GP about support options which are available to you.