When you ease stress, it’s good for your whole body, including your psoriatic arthritis.
Sometimes everyday worries seem to make your symptoms worse. Or maybe it's your discomfort that gets to you.
You can take steps to relax. That may help with skin flare-ups and calm achy joints, morning stiffness, and swollen fingers and toes.
Start with these five strategies.
1. Get Moving
Exercise is a great way to offset the effects of stress on your mind and body.
You don't have to go to the gym. Just move any way you enjoy and that’s easy on your joints. You can ride a stationary bike while you watch TV, or take your dog on a brisk walk. Swimming or water aerobics are good options, too, if you have access to a pool.
Start slowly with any new exercise, especially if your joints are swollen or achy. If you’re not sure what activities are OK for you to do, ask your doctor.
2. Tune In
Take a break and listen to your favorite music. Or focus on your breath -- in, out… in, out -- for a few moments. Other thoughts are bound to come up -- your to-do list, a conversation you need to have later today. That’s OK. Just gently return your attention to your breath. Prayer, if it’s part of your tradition, is another great resource when you’re stressed.
Although none of these approaches will take the sources of your stress away, they’ll renew and refresh your mind and emotions, so you’re more ready to handle your challenges.
Don’t feel guilty when you take time for these things. It's a key part of your day and can help give you more energy to do the things you need (and want) to do.
3. Set Some Limits
You don't have to do everything! Take some time to think about what's important to you and learn how to say "no." Make sure you regularly get to do some things you enjoy, and you'll be in a much better mood. Plus, you’ll save your energy for what really matters.
For instance, if you’re sore or tired, you don't have to make homemade cookies for the school bake sale. Buy some instead. Then use that extra time to spend the evening doing something that you want to do.
4. Tap Your Connections
Hang out with family and friends. Sometimes, you’ll want to stay home, especially when your symptoms bug you. But you'll feel calmer and more relaxed if you get together with people you like. Meet for coffee, go for a walk, check out a concert -- whatever it is, save time and energy to socialize.
You can meet new people through volunteer work. That can help you make friends -- plus, it always makes you feel better when you help others.
Want to talk about what you feel with someone who understands your condition because they have it, too? Check with your doctor or the National Psoriasis Foundation to find psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis support groups in your area or online.
5. Be Upbeat
Try to look on the sunny side when you consider your setbacks and struggles. Take a realistic look at your problems, and with a can-do approach, you’re more likely to see solutions.
Remember, you don’t have to go it alone. Partner with your doctor and loved ones. You may also want to talk with a professional counselor if you’re going through a rough time. When you team up, you dial down stress and its symptoms.