Everyday life, particularly working life, can be stressful at times for all of us. If you have arthritis or a related long-term health condition, this can add to feelings of being anxious, overwhelmed or upset.
Stress is powerful, and can have physical effects on the human body.
If something about your condition or your working life is causing you stress or making you feel low, it's important to talk to someone about how you're feeling. This could be a relative, partner, friend, colleague or your manager.
Talk about how you're feeling
Developing coping mechanisms, such as talking around a problem and working out a sensible and practical solution can greatly reduce stress.
Bottling things up and not talking to anyone about something that's worrying or upsetting you is the worst thing you could do.
People with arthritis have told us that talking to a line manager about a problem early on is much better than letting something reach a crisis point.
It might be that your line manager is reluctant or nervous to start such a conversation. If you think this is the case, you could start this conversation and have key things ready to say, including:
- how you're feeling
- triggers for why you think you're feeling that way, although it may be more helpful and productive if you try not to 'blame' anyone
- what you think your employer might be able to help with.
Find ways to reduce stress
Staying organised at work and focusing on your priorities can help you avoid stress. Talk to your manager if you ever feel that you are over-worked or unable to cope with any particular tasks.
Regular exercise, particularly aerobic exercise, can greatly help to lift your mood and ease worries. Exercise can increase your confidence and self-esteem; and exercising leads to the release of endorphins (the body's natural painkillers), which can greatly improve mood.
Something as simple as going for a walk in a nice setting at lunchtime can help you feel better.
Finding quality time to relax and do the things you love, whether that be reading, listening to good music, socialising, taking part in sport, or watching a good film, can also greatly help you to relax.
Seek help if you need it
If you feel that your mood is persistently low, or that you are anxious a lot, talk to a doctor. If you'd like to talk to someone in more depth, your doctor may be able to refer you to a counsellor to talk things through.
Many people with long-term health conditions have used talking therapies, such as mindfulness or cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) to help them deal with the emotional and psychological aspects of their condition.