Find your own strategies!
A chronic diagnosis can mean both uncertainty and different types of setbacks. Therefore, it is extra important to find your own useful coping strategies to become resilient, learn from your challenges and feel better.
Living with a chronic diagnosis, such as rheumatoid arthritis, can involve various kinds of physical and mental challenges. You may also have uncertainty about how things will be in the future. There are ways to stay mentally strong, despite your diagnosis.
Finding what psychologists often call coping strategies can make it easier to become resilient to the setbacks a chronic diagnosis brings. Being able to use and learn different types of strategies to deal with unforeseen events can help you take control and move forward. It is a skill that can be developed and honed over time.
According to the American Arthritis Foundation patient organization, research shows that this type of psychological resilience can make a person recover faster, handle pain better and have less risk of depression and anxiety. So, what can you think and do? Here are 8 practical tips:
1. Focus on the positive. Studies show that optimism can be the key to building psychological resilience. The more hope you feel, the more resilient you become. Increasing optimism does not mean ignoring the negatives, but rather placing greater emphasis on the positives. Ask yourself three questions: “Does this provide new opportunities? Can I look at this differently? Can this lead to anything good?”
2. Use your experience. If you have a chronic illness, you are probably more resilient than you may admit to yourself. When dealing with adversity, it may be a good idea to ask yourself how you have handled similar problems in the past. What worked well then?
3. Gain new knowledge. Be sure to ask questions when you see your rheumatologist and read about your diagnosis. The more you learn, the more control you have. It gives you confidence.
4. Cheer yourself on. Even before you were diagnosed, you needed strength and knowledge to solve problems in life. We have all had times when it felt like we were going to fail a challenge but still succeeded in the end. When you are faced with an unexpected situation, it can be good to think back to previous times when you have succeeded.
5. Discover what makes you happy. Give yourself time to do what you enjoy. Joy and a sense of satisfaction can provide respite from stress. It could be a hobby or something as simple as a walk in the spring sun.
6. Get moving. Exercise can reduce anxiety, depression and improve sleep. It makes you feel better not only physically but also mentally.
7. Ask for help. Getting support is important for gaining mental resilience. This support can come from relatives and friends or networks of patient organizations. Things are easier when you are not alone. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness.
8. What are you grateful for? It may sound a bit exaggerated, but the fact is that people who think about what they can be grateful for in life actually become more optimistic, which can help build psychological resilience. When you think about what you have, it can help you not to overemphasize what you do not have.
What do you do?
What strategies do you use to deal with adversity or situations that you end up in? Share your tips at email@example.com
Want to know more?
Download the Elsa app and follow Elsa's program. You can also find tips and thoughts from people living with a rheumatic diagnosis.