Manage stress to improve psoriatic arthritis symptoms

Psoriatic arthritis and stress often go hand in hand. Get tips to manage stress to improve your symptoms.

Stress and psoriatic arthritis often go hand in hand. When your body perceives a demand or threat, it triggers a chemical reaction that prepares you to respond effectively. As these chemicals flood your body, your heart rate speeds up, your breath becomes more rapid, your muscles tighten — and inflammation spreads like wildfire. If you have psoriatic arthritis, this inflammation often worsens your symptoms, leading to even more stress … and even more inflammation.

This stress-and-inflammation cycle may be one of the most discouraging aspects you face if you're living with psoriatic arthritis, increasing both your emotional and physical pain. Though the task of wrestling stress under control may seem daunting, it is doable, especially if you commit to long-term changes. With consistent effort, you can manage stress and improve your emotional and physical well-being.

Tips to reduce stress

There's no "right" way to deal with stress. Finding what works for you is the most important thing. Take these steps now to deal with present and potential stress:

  • Learn to recognize signs that you're stressed. People may be stressed but not even realize it. Paying close attention to your unique stress response can help you notice it when it begins. Common signs of stress include changes in breathing, tight muscles, sweaty hands and fatigue.

    It may be hard to differentiate between stress and your psoriatic arthritis symptoms. Keeping a journal of when you feel stressed, as well as surrounding events, may help you detect the difference.

  • Make a plan to stop stress in its tracks. When you know what triggers your stress, you can take steps to avoid it or prepare yourself to face it. Expecting stress and mentally preparing yourself for it can help you tame it and keep it in perspective.
  • Reach out to others for support. Sharing your feelings with others can help you see your stressors differently and offer fresh insight. Family, friends and counselors can all play a role in helping you manage stress.
  • Put proven stress-busting methods to work for yourself. Many people find that relaxation or mind-body exercises — such as deep breathing, meditation, progressive muscle relaxation, yoga or tai chi — can significantly reduce stress.

    Traditional exercise, such as walking or gardening, also can help relieve stress. Talk with your doctor about an appropriate exercise program for you.

Stress won't disappear from your life. And stress management isn't an overnight cure. But with ongoing attention and practice, you can learn to manage your stress levels and live better with psoriatic arthritis.

Jan. 06, 2017 See more In-depth