As another year goes by, we look at the rising statistics of the prevalence of arthritis and other long-term conditions in the UK. As an organisation dedicated to helping people with arthritis, it makes us even more adamant to help improve the quality of life for the millions of people living with arthritis.
Looking at evidence-based principles of our self-management approach, we can spell out five key points to help make this year a better one, giving people the hope and emotional strength to manage their condition and lead happier lives. And at that, we have kept our aims realistic and achievable, so we know we can keep them up!
Here are our self-management tips for a happier 2018:
1. Cook more meals
Consume a varied diet containing a broader range of nutrients, and limit processed and ready-made meals. Instead of focusing on a weight-loss goal, in 2018 focus on cooking more of your meals. Learn new recipes, share culinary tips, get inspired and rekindle your relationship with food and be more in control of our nutrition.
2. Embrace positive thinking
Look to rid yourself of negative thinking, appreciating that there are always limitations in life which should not define what and who you are. In a bid to reframe the way we look at our day-to-day lives, speaking to our members and our network of physical therapists, it has become apparent that a major hindrance in people feeling able to cope is the view that they are somehow less able. This year we want you to challenge this way of thinking and reverse it; try to challenge yourself to look at what you can do instead of what you may not, what you have achieved instead of what you yet have to complete, and question any negative thoughts as they come.
3. Practice pacing
Practice flare-up management by learning about ‘pacing’. At a time where we all move and operate so quickly, it seems we have forgotten to value rest and recuperation, pushing ourselves to the brink. A question we get a lot at all our Self-Management Events is ‘How do you know when to slow down?’ Pacing is recognising your limitations, looking at your lifestyle and developing a goal action plan, to change the way you think about your daily activities, your condition and your rest time. Pacing, as we advise our members, is becoming aware of your activity and conscious not to overdo it on good days. In 2018 be considerate of your long-term wellbeing, and appreciate that you can confidently prioritise your tasks to suit how you may feel on a particular day.
4. Join a group
Reach out and join a community to become connected, share with and learn from others. Living with chronic pain can be an isolating experience. Frequently, the nature of our relationships with our family and friends mean we cannot be vulnerable, or ask for advice to help us through a difficult flare-up. Joining a group and meeting people in the same boat allows you to share that unique experience of arthritis and address any questions, building on your confidence as well as developing a social circle.
5. Get active
Finally, we’re updating the usual resolution of ‘getting fit’ to a more empowering ‘getting more active’. Keeping moving is one of the most important things a person can do to help their symptoms and progression of their condition. The NHS offers fantastic resources on their One You pages, including a wonderful free app called Active 10 which can help you track your daily walking by breaking it down to 10-minute intervals. Slotting in activity to our everyday lives makes for a sustainable long-term plan to become more active individuals, today and for the future.