Life is so fast paced it can be easy to rush through each day without stopping to notice much of it. Paying more attention to the present moment – your own thoughts and feelings and the world around you – can improve your mental well-being and even reduce pain levels. This kind of awareness is called mindfulness and it can help us enjoy life more and understand ourselves better. Anyone can take steps to develop it in their own life – you don’t need to be a Buddhist monk or have a degree in psychology. Mindfulness means experiencing directly what’s going on inside and outside ourselves. It allows us to become more aware of the stream of thoughts and feelings that we experience and prevent these from controlling our choices or decisions.
Mindfulness develops a sense of self awareness that helps us notice signs of stress or anxiety earlier and helps us deal with them better. Grounding techniques have long been used to ease anxiety attacks. Visualisation and relaxation techniques can ease chronic pain with practice. These techniques may be strange at first, and don’t work for everyone straight away, so keep trying. It seems impossible that something as simple as taking a few minutes each day to stop, breathe and focus can help to ease your chronic joint pain. However, many experts say meditation and relaxation really work in the battle against pain. Clinicians agree that meditation can help people with arthritis to take control of their pain and ease symptoms of depression and anxiety.
As arthritis is a degenerative and life-limiting condition, affecting millions of people of all ages in the UK, it’s only natural to find it hard to cope with on a daily basis and stay positive. Studies suggest that many people with arthritis suffer from depression or experience anxiety as a direct result of their condition. Some people may be more susceptible to it than others, but the possibility of depression or anxiety is always present. It is not something to be taken lightly and should always be dealt with by a qualified clinician or therapist. However, mindfulness can improve both your physical and your mental well-being.
Download our well-being booklet for more details on mindfulness for people with arthritis.