To tell or not to tell? It can be tricky deciding which people in your life you’re comfortable telling about your arthritis. Everyone is different and has different reasons for holding back, but sometimes opening up can help. Here’s a few ideas on how to talk about your condition and maintain a normal social life.
It can be tempting to avoid telling your friends about your arthritis. Understandably so—you don’t want them to treat you differently or stop including you in activities and events. But staying quiet can lead to more pain and despair. Pushing through the pain can continue to aggravate your joints and make it more difficult to enjoy social activities.
Consider explaining your limitations to your social circle, but also let them know you’re still yourself. Be as open and honest as possible, and don’t be afraid to ask for help with things like grocery shopping or household chores. Spending this type of quality time together provides bonding opportunities and may even strengthen your relationships.1
According to the Arthritis Foundation, living with arthritis can be an emotional rollercoaster. Your physical pain can bring up plenty of different emotions—from confusion and anxiety to embarrassment and sadness, and more. That’s why it’s important to care for yourself both physically and emotionally to manage your stress. This might include practicing meditation and positive self-talk to improve your mindfulness. Or you can try stretching and muscle-strengthening activities that promote relaxation, such as yoga and tai chi.2 Try engaging in these activities with your friends to help you stay motivated and keep you accountable.
When making plans with friends, you may need to alter the types of activities you participate in. Try something active like joining a gym, doing an exercise class together or engaging in other low-impact activities like walking around the neighborhood. Light exercise not only helps keep your joints from getting stiff, but it also releases endorphins, which encourage a more positive attitude and may help your condition seem less discouraging.3
Put together a small bag of arthritis-friendly items that you can easily toss in your backpack, purse or car to carry with you when you’re out and about.
Don’t let your arthritis pain hold you back from living your best life. Through friendship support, exercise and relaxation, and using arthritis-friendly items, you can maintain a healthy social life regardless of your condition.
You can take control of symptoms in a few ways: by exercising daily, eating healthy, and using hot or cold packs. Taking these lifestyle tips into consideration can help make life a little easier.