Daily Living

6 arthritis-friendly habits to cultivate in 2024 

A woman practicing yoga

January may be a time when you decide to make New Year's resolutions, but any month is a good time to cultivate small habits that can improve your well-being. Instead of creating lofty new goals, consider starting 2024 by building self-care habits that align with your interests, add joy, and help you flourish.

1. Be kind to yourself

Arthritis can be taxing, demanding, and truly debilitating. No wonder people living with this painful disease are twice as likely to have mental health issues. It's okay if you can't do everything you set out to do on a given day.  Practice self-compassion and patience. Remember, you're doing the best you can.

Understanding there will be ups and downs, being flexible and managing your expectations can go a long way. Through self-love and kindness, you can accept your limitations and add joy to your life.

"Rest and breathing space are not signs of weakness or laziness, they are necessary to life as is food and water," says Margaret Smit-Vandezande, social worker at Arthritis Society Canada. 

2. Talk to someone

When going through the ebbs and flows of life with chronic pain, it can be challenging to maintain relationships.

Letting your loved ones know what you are going through is not always easy but can make a world of difference. Reach out to them to help them understand why you have withdrawn, and how best they can support your needs. Most of the time you will find that people want to be there for you and help you feel more connected.

"People can't see your pain — from the outside, you may look fine. Good communication can help others understand how they can help," says Smit-Vandezande.  

If you struggle with communication or don't know where to start, talk to a professional. Their trained ear and thoughtful recommendations can help you find strategies to better manage your arthritis symptoms and interpersonal relationships.

You can also find support groups in your community to connect with others also navigating a life with arthritis.

3. Move and listen to your body

It's well known that there is a direct correlation between physical activity and general well-being. Exercise triggers the release of endorphins, a mood-boosting hormone, that can naturally elevate your mood.

Incorporating movement into your daily routine will also support your joints and physical health. Strong joints help your body absorb shock and stay limber and balanced.

There are many arthritis-friendly options to choose from. Find the type of exercise you enjoy most to keep up the habit. Make sure to consult with your healthcare provider before starting any new activity and listen to your body when exercising.

4. Eat right

Nourishing meals can reduce arthritis symptoms and support your physical and mental wellbeing.

Studies have shown evidence linking benefits of embracing the Mediterranean diet and lifestyle for people living with arthritis and other autoimmune diseases. The good news is that this diet is accessible and easy to follow and focuses on balance, rather than depriving yourself of the food you love.

Preparing meals in advance is also a great strategy to make sure there's always something healthy on hand, even when an arthritis flare prevents you from cooking.

5. Improve your sleeping habits

Getting a good night's sleep can be challenging if you are living with arthritis and dealing with chronic pain.

You need quality sleep to feel energized and ready to tackle each new day. To develop good sleep hygiene, consider going over these 10 things to do before you go to sleep.

Create your own checklist and try to apply these tips at night before hitting the hay. Creating healthy sleep habits can take time, so don't be hard on yourself if you are not able to make changes right away. Take time to unwind before bed and once you see progress, you will find the results to be rewarding!

6. Practice mindfulness

Mindfulness practices like yoga or meditation can help focus the mind on the present moment and bring you peace.

"The practice of mindfulness can help us develp patience and emotional regulation, creating mental space to more skillfully respond versus react to issues," says Smit-Vandezande. "It can make a profound difference."

Doing so could potentially bolster your ability to observe your pain in a detached way and with kindness — creating a different relationship with it.

Yoga and meditation are accessible to beginners and offer shorter, manageable practices that can be incorporated into the busiest of routines or lifestyles. For more self-care habits check out our website