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Stop Rheumatoid Arthritis Isolation and Loneliness

Tips for those with rheumatoid arthritis.

Living with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) often means you have less energy and time to spend with friends and family, or you might not be able to participate if the activity is vigorous or exacerbates symptoms. Add to that the feeling that others don’t fully understand how challenging daily functioning is — coupled with the temptation to withdraw — and it’s easy to see how you can become disconnected.

Feeling isolated isn’t just a state of mind; it can have negative effects on your health. Research published in the journal Genome Biology found that people who are lonely have gene responses that reduce the immune system’s ability to suppress inflammation. Isolation can also lead to depression, something that as many as 42 percent of people with rheumatoid arthritis experience. The bottom line: It’s important to your mental and physical health to find ways to stay connected.

You Can Ease Early Feelings of Sadness

The good news is that there many ways to counter isolation and be social, even if you can’t leave your house. In addition to talking with your doctor about your mental health, consider these six ways to stay connected.

1. Join a patient support group. Meeting other people who are struggling with the same illness can not only provide social support, but it comes with the benefit of finding others who truly get what you’re going through. To find a support group near you, try CreakyJoints, which lists dozens of support groups across the country for those living with arthritis. Arthritis Introspective, part of the Arthritis Foundation, also runs in-person (and online) support networks for those living with different types of arthritis, including rheumatoid arthritis.

2. Try a tai chi or yoga class. Taking a gentle exercise class — like tai chi or yoga — offers a two-for-one benefit. First, you are giving yourself the opportunity to be around others, even if you’re simply sitting next to someone on a mat or stretching in a room full of others. You don’t always need to be in conversation with someone to experience social benefits and feel more connected: A study published in September 2013 in the Journal of Clinical Nursing found that shared tai chi sessions for those with RA provided social support.

Second, these forms of exercise have proven benefits, according to research published in October 2013 in the journal Current Rheumatology Reports, for people with RA and other rheumatic diseases by decreasing depression and inflammatory markers, like C-reactive protein and interleukin-6.

3. Get politically active. Joining a political campaign, or supporting a public health issue related to RA, or healthcare or disability rights in general, can provide numerous opportunities to engage with others in person or virtually. Interacting with like-minded citizens who share a passion for fairer health policies is a way to feel connected to a greater cause as well. A good place to find meet-ups in your area: The 50StateNetwork.org.

4. Adopt a pet. Pets are people too! Research published in the Journal of Social Issuesfound that interacting with a pet can help people feel less alone, among other benefits. In addition, a study published in April 2015 in the journal PLoS One found that pet owners are more likely than pet-free people to get to know their neighbors, and that 40 percent of pet owners reported meeting someone who provided social support via their pet.

Whether you’re in the market for a feline, a canine, or another furry (or scaly) companion, consider adopting from a shelter versus buying from a pet store, which may exacerbate factory-style breeding that is inhumane to animals. Go to The Shelter Pet Project to find shelters and pets in your area.

Read full article: Stop Rheumatoid Arthritis Isolation and Loneliness | Everyday Health

Read Full Article: Stop Rheumatoid Arthritis Isolation and Loneliness | Everyday Health

The health and medical information on our website is not intended to take the place of advice or treatment from health care professionals. It is also not intended to substitute for the users’ relationships with their own health care/pharmaceutical providers.

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