Positive thinking: the benefits of meditation for managing RA symptoms
Dr. Henry Averns
How focusing on your inner wellbeing could help to ease the stress and anxiety associated with RA.
Nobody chooses to have rheumatoid arthritis, but you can choose how to respond and cope with it. An open mind is essential. Multiple treatment options should be explored in the search to manage your RA. Two such holistic alternatives involve channelling the merits of positive thinking and the incorporation of meditation into your lifestyle. These practices have been used for thousands of years to promote spiritual, emotional and physical wellbeing.
Pain, as any RA sufferer will know only too well, can be an all-consuming adversary. Yet developing techniques to limit its hold on your life, even temporarily, can change how you view and relate to its demands. It’s important to shift focus from your limitations to your capabilities.
Mindfulness/meditation therapy is a mental exercise that concentrates on breath or sound, to focus attention, delivering a state of self-awareness, inner calm and nurtured positive thought. A sort of mind-body medicine.1
Meditation is an all-encompassing term, inclusive of many different mind-body practices. They all utilize contemplative thought and relaxation techniques to ease anxiety, pain, stress and even insomnia.1
Different meditation techniques include:2
- Yoga breathing – focused breathing
- Active meditation – is a technique that can be done in the shower or walking in the park and involves focusing intently on the movements of your body and the sensations you feel
- Guided imagery – listen to a calming voice that guides you on visualization
- Mindfulness-based stress reduction – a method for quieting your thoughts
- Transcendental meditation – this technique allows you to settle inwardly, through quieted thoughts
Repetition of your adopted technique several times a day such as when you wake up or at night is recommended, to build up a personal meditation routine. By giving your mind and body time to relax and rejuvenate, you are more likely to maintain a positive attitude. There are resources available to improve your meditation success, from self-help books and CDs, to group sessions, some of which are run by healthcare professionals.
RA can promote feelings of stress, anxiety, worry and frustration, which often put your body under elevated pressure and strain, and heighten the symptoms of chronic disease. Tapping into a positive outlook, can help to dispel some of this unwelcome pressure and reduce the severity of symptoms.1
These activities also promote broader benefits. Such positivity often opens up channels of communication. This will assist in conversations with your doctor, friends and family, targeting your condition as a team.
Developing and encouraging a positive outlook enables you to choose to approach life one task at a time and approach each challenge with optimism. It leads to fewer difficulties encountered along the way and in turn, increases your ability to overcome life’s ever-changing problems.
Meditation is one of the techniques which enables people to feel empowered about their RA, not overwhelmed by it. If you want to conquer the anxieties of life, live in the moment, live in the breath.