Ways to Keep a Healthy Mind When Dealing with Arthritis
It is more than just physically taxing to manage the pains of juvenile arthritis on a daily basis. Regardless of whether you are the one with the disease or the one supporting someone with the disease, the stress of pain management can take its toll emotionally and mentally.
When battling with the physical pains of arthritis, it becomes extremely important to take steps to maintain the health and wellbeing of the mind and emotions. A healthy mind generates the physical and emotional strength to triumph over the daily battles of arthritis pain.
When the mind is healthy, the body and all of its components can proudly say, “I’m still moving!”
Below are 10 ways in which to keep a healthy mind.
1. Keep a Journal
Any person at any age can benefit from keeping a journal. Writing at the end of a long day gives us the opportunity to not only get out how we’re feeling, but to then contemplate why we felt that way in the first place.
A journal is more than just a house for our inner most thoughts, it’s a way to get to know ourselves better, a way for us to begin to understand makes us tick, and a way to learn how to feel better.
The mere act of reflecting on our thoughts and emotions can quickly turn any negative day into a brighter and more positive one.
Meditation comes in a variety of forms and can be used in a variety of ways. It can be as simple as sitting alone and breathing for a few minutes or as structured as attending a 30 minute meditation class.
More important than the method is the act of doing: the act of being alone with ourselves, our thoughts, and our breath without the distraction of televisions, phones, and other devices.
Parents, this is an easy exercise to do with your children suffering from JA. Five minutes of meditation everyday, or even ten minutes a few times a week can lead to better coping mechanisms when it comes to our mental and emotional states.
The more we sit with ourselves, the easier it becomes to manage stress, anxiety, depression, and other mental and emotional states that can develop from dealing with the pains of arthritis.
3. Learn Something New
When the mind is engaged we tend to feel good, especially if it is engaged in something we’re interested in.
Parents, take a break from researching JA and try your hand at learning about herbs, pottery, or even ancient Greece. What is something you have always been curious about? Use the internet to find a few good books on the topic and learn something new about it!
The same goes for your children. What do they find interesting? Dinosaurs? Pirates? The weather? Find some good books for them to read or for you to read to them about the topics they’re most interested in.
Time away from JA and towards something that excites the brain can keep our mental facilities sharp and can keep us feeling good.
4. Use Essential Oils
Our sense of smell can go a long way towards keeping our minds healthy.
How many times has the scent of fresh baked cookies or blueberry pie put a smile on your face? Essential oils can work in much the same way!
Scents like lavender, frankincense, sandalwood, and chamomile can help relax the mind and promote sleep, while scents like rosemary, bergamot, ylang ylang, wild orange, and peppermint can help boost your mood and even lower blood pressure.
Mixing your oils in bath water, in shower soap, or simply rubbing onto your hands or pillow before bed can help keep you positive and balanced, emotionally and mentally.
5. Engage in Creative Expression
Creativity is a great tool for expressing our thoughts and feelings in a productive way.
For children, creative expression can be as simple as coloring or as complex as taking an art or music class.
Funny enough, the same goes for adults! With new adult coloring books available, adults too can color to relieve stress. You might also consider signing up for that pottery class you have always wanted to try, or perhaps taking a stab at writing that novel you had an idea for.
Creative expression allows us to feel good by seeing that we are capable of creating something beautiful, even in the face of life’s challenges.
6. Give back to Others
A great way to help ourselves and our kids feel good is by giving back to others. A simple act of kindness can go a long way.
Holding doors open, saying thank you, and offering to help strangers we encounter in our daily lives helps us to feel less isolated and more connected to each other.
Try volunteering at a local animal shelter or food bank, or become involved in local charities and events.
The more we can do for each other, and the more we can teach our children to do for each other, the less alone we feel in our struggles.
7. Surround yourself with Nature
Sometimes we just spend too much time inside: inside a car, inside four walls, even inside our own heads. A wonderfully way to step out of our own minds is to spend time in nature. The vastness of it gives us perspective and reminds us that our struggles, while difficult, are small in comparison.
A walk through some trees, a trip to the lake or ocean, tea on the porch, or a moonlit stroll can help clear our mind and bring some positivity back into our space.
Parents, this is a great activity to do with your children who are suffering from JA.
Time in nature can help everyone feel refreshed and renewed.
8. Take care of Something
Parents, this is especially helpful for children suffering from Juvenile Arthritis.
Often, they may feel a loss of control over their disease and how they feel from day to day, resulting in various degrees of sadness and even sometimes depression. But taking care of something, having a responsibility for the well being of something else, can help balance and many times even override those negative feelings.
And its ok if your child is too young for a puppy, kitten, fish, or bunny (or if the house is just too full!)- a child can take care of many things with the same effect. A plant, a chia pet, even a pet rock can instill in children the need to be responsible for the well being of another, which in turn makes us want to feel good enough to be able to achieve that. It’s a wonderful case of mind over matter!
9. Engage in Meaningful Conversation
It is important to check in with our kids about their struggles with JA, just as its important for the caretakers of those children to check in with themselves and have a confidant they can speak to.
There are some days when venting about what is on our minds is the best way we can let go of it, and there is no shame in that!
Speaking our mind and feeling comfortable enough to do so, is extremely important for keeping our minds healthy.
When we laugh, our bodies release endorphins that cut our stress and anxiety and help us feel great!
Laughing also helps to relax the body, boosts the immune system, and aids in creating stronger relationships with others.
So, rent a funny movie for the whole family, see a comedy show, or start practicing your stand up routine because laughing is an easy way to feel good. And when we feel good, our lives, no matter the challenges, start to look a whole lot better.