6 Ways to Rise Above the Emotional Impact - Large

On the surface, osteoarthritis is a physical health issue. Cartilage that cushions the bones in joints breaks down and the bones begin rubbing against each other, creating inflammation and pain — and making previously normal activities of your life difficult to continue and enjoy.

This is when osteoarthritis also becomes an emotional issue.

Resilience involves looking beyond the immediate adversity and moving forward with optimism and faith.

Medications and other treatments help relieve the physical symptoms of osteoarthritis. But how do you treat the disappointment that comes from having to excuse yourself from golf, tennis or a bike ride with friends? Or the identity crisis of reversing roles — from capable helper to the one asking for assistance?

The Power of Resilience

The Arthritis Foundation recommends strengthening your capacity for resilience — to be able to rebound and persevere mentally and emotionally in the midst of challenges like the physical limitations that osteoarthritis can throw your way.

Resilience involves looking beyond the immediate adversity and moving forward with optimism and faith.

6 Ways to Put Resilience Into Action6 Ways to Rise Above the Emotional Impact - In Content

Following are six suggestions on how to put resilience into practice and replace hopelessness and frustration with positive attitude and action:

  1. Know your condition. Ask your doctor lots of questions about osteoarthritis and your treatment plan. The more you know, the more you’ll understand how to live with your condition and maintain as active a life as possible. Knowledge puts you in control of your situation and may even surprise you: your condition may not be as limiting as you first thought.
  2. Be positive. Refocus your attention from the negatives of living with osteoarthritis. This helps you consider what new opportunities may now be open to you.
  3. Count your blessings. While you’re thinking positively, think about all the good things that are happening in your life. Thinking about what you have takes your focus off your problems. And focusing on your blessings can motivate you to keep moving forward, no matter your challenges.
  4. Accept your “new normal.” You may not be able to go full force like you used to, but look for ways to scale back or modify the activities that bring you enjoyment. For instance, change up your tennis game with friends from singles to doubles. Or switch from running to vigorous walking.
  5. Keep moving. Your doctor has probably made physical activity a part of your treatment plan. And for good reason. Exercise is not only good for physical joint health. It also improves sleep and mood, going a long way to helping you maintain a positive frame of mind. Exercise also is good for your heart and helps you control your weight, which relieves stress on joints.
  6. Seek and accept support. With the support of others, you don’t have to feel like you’re going through your challenges alone. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. Your friends and family likely want to help. But they may not know how and may be waiting for you to ask.