Five keys for increasing your strength
There is a lot you can do yourself to deal with a chronic disease such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Here are five important self-care tips for increasing your strength.
Having a chronic illness can initially feel overwhelming, and your head may be full of questions. But there are ways forward. Even though rheumatoid arthritis (RA) cannot yet be cured, there are many tricks you can use to feel better and live the life you want. These tips originally come from the Arthritis Foundation in the United States.
1. Learn as much as possible
Knowledge is power, at least when that knowledge comes from credible sources. It is good to read carefully about your diagnosis and ask many questions of your rheumatologist and other healthcare professionals such as physiotherapists, nurses and counselors.
2. Pay attention to your feelings
Some people with chronic diagnoses such as rheumatism may also suffer from depression. It is good to pay extra attention to the warning signs of depression such as constant fatigue, loss of appetite and impaired sleep. It is important to seek professional help for depression, but it is also important to seek the help of your family and friends.
3. Make your rheumatologist a true partner
Make sure your doctor gives you time to discuss treatment options and answer questions. Be sure to tell them if something is not working and do not be afraid to tell them if following the doctor's advice hasn’t worked. Also address issues that may not feel “medical” but which may improve your situation, such as how to become more active or reduce your stress.
4. Make a plan - and follow it.
It is natural to feel anxious when you get a chronic diagnosis. The way forward can be to accept your diagnosis and focus instead on how it is possible to adapt your life. What do you need to change? It could be about planning your weekly activities, diet, exercise or stress level, for example. Make a plan and a tip could be to tell others what you are planning: it can help you stick to it.
5. Invest in yourself
Putting energy into changing your life can sometimes be the key to success with a chronic illness. This does not mean you have to give up the life you had before the diagnosis. To start to invest more in your health and take responsibility for what you can do to feel better in life can for many create a positive change. What do you need right now? Make sure your goals are realistic. Several small steps are better than a big change that can feel overwhelming.
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.