May is Arthritis Awareness and Mental Health Awareness Month. As an individual living with arthritis and other chronic health conditions it may be hard to remain upbeat, take care of one’s body mind and body, and handle everyday stressors (i.e., work, school, financial responsibilities) in addition to coping with the issues that come along with having a chronic condition.
Whether newly diagnosed or managing an established chronic condition it is important to utilize coping strategies and engage in self-care for maintaining one’s mental health. The theme for mental health awareness month is #4Mind4Body. Everyday stress, physical pain from arthritis and other underlying conditions, and depression have been shown to affect mental and physical well-being. According to MedlinePlus, pain can cause unwanted feelings such as frustration, resentment, and stress, and the way your mind controls these thoughts and attitudes can affect the way your body controls pain. This can make it difficult to focus on one’s self and interact with health care professionals and loved ones.
So, what is self-care?
Self-care refers to the actions taken by an individual to lead a healthy lifestyle for themselves; meet social, emotional, and psychological needs; care for their long-term condition; and prevent any further illness or accidents (https://www.pec-journal.com/article/S0738-3991(02)00032-0/fulltext). Self-care can include taking the time to rest; maintaining a healthy work-life balance and eating habits; applying stress management/relaxation techniques (i.e., meditation, yoga, walking, running, etc.); seeking out physical and/or online support systems (i.e., arthritis Facebook groups); and finding relaxing activities such as coloring, crafting, reading, gaming, etc.. Self-care can help ease the stress of the everyday and the ideas are limitless. Taking the time to refuel and care for oneself provides us with an opportunity to recharge and manage the everyday ins-and-outs of a chronic condition(s).
What are some the ways you practice self-care? Let us know your thoughts.