What strategies have helped you the most in learning how to manage your arthritis
Learning how to manage a chronic health condition takes time and perseverance. In your experience with arthritis, what strategies have helped you the most?
It takes a lot of strength and courage to face this disease every day, both mentally and physically. In my opinion, it’s all about finding the proper balance between listening to your body and not letting the disease stop you from living your life and achieving your goals. Having the right medical team and the proper treatment plan is also essential. It was a trial and error period for a very long time so this process requires a lot of dedication and patience. I managed to find relief with immunosuppressive medicine, disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs, corticosteroids and certain vitamins/supplements. I also had to find the right balance between rest and exercise. I had to learn, for example, that one day of activity may signify that I need to spend a lot of time resting the following day. It’s a lifestyle that I had to get accustomed to but over time, I have built a lot of strength and endurance. I usually try to stick to the low-impact forms of exercises.
It’s also about self-care and being kind to yourself. Know that you will have bad days and it’s okay. It’s important to allow yourself to have those bad days. Taking it one day at a time, even one hour at a time is sometimes essential. Music has also been a big motivator for me. Finding the right songs that will help push you and motivate you to keep moving, to keep going, is a great help on very difficult days.
Finally, meeting other young adults who live with similar conditions has also been a great help. Some of them I had the opportunity to meet in-person, but others I’ve only interacted with online, on arthritis-related support groups. Not only can we relate and talk about the ways in which we face the illness and the health care system, but we also tend to find a lot of humour in our struggles. Sharing jokes about living the “arthritic life” has brought a lot of laughter into my world, which has helped me when facing day-to-day obstacles.
The Arthritis Society’s helpful online learning guides can help you self-manage your condition with strategies for coping with chronic pain, eating well, staying active, and many more topics.