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 makes your symptoms worse, causing stress and even more inflammation.

This stress-and-inflammation cycle can increase both your emotional and physical pain. While it may seem challenging to manage stress, it can be done, especially if you commit to long-term changes. If you stick with them, you can soothe 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. You may be stressed but not even realize it. Paying close attention to how your body reacts when you're stressed so you notice changes when they begin. Common signs of stress include changes in breathing, tight muscles, sweaty hands and fatigue.

    It may be hard to tell the difference 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. Family, friends and counselors can offer fresh insight and 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.

Dec. 28, 2018 See more In-depth