Rheumatoid Arthritis Stress Management Tip: Vent

How Venting Can Reduce Stress and RA Pain

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Stress can worsen rheumatoid arthritis (RA), as you can read about in our article on how stress affects RA. Therefore, many people with rheumatoid arthritis seek ways to manage stress as part of addressing the daily pain and inflammation that comes from rheumatoid arthritis. You can control your reaction to stress by many stress management techniques.

Stress is an inevitable part of life. It is an emotional response to a new situation usually driven by conflicting internal and external expectations. It can serve as a positive influence in your life by causing personal growth and change, but it can also produce feelings of frustration, anger, and depression.

You can read another one of our articles for stress management tips, but in this article, we will discuss one specific stress reliever tip: venting.

Stress management tipsVenting is more than getting something frustrating off your chest by telling a friend about stressful life events, although that is a good example of it.

Venting is about releasing negative emotions that can build up and start to take a physical toll. Working through such emotions as frustration, anger, disappointment, and fear can decrease your stress level as you prevent internalization of these emotions.

Although the consequences of stress are variable, it may lead to fatigue, trouble sleeping, headaches, stomachaches, high blood pressure, and anxiety—you know, all those little signs that may be a tip-off that something is wrong, something deeper than a bad day or a difficult conversation.

As you handle a chronic condition like rheumatoid arthritis, it's helpful to engage in a healthy venting process.

You can:

  • Journal: Of course, not everyone is a writer, but you don't have to be Hemingway—this journal is all about you. Whenever you feel the need, you can get down on paper what is stressful or frustrating or disappointing—whatever you're facing, sometimes it helps just to see it in ink. You don't have to write pages and pages; get down the heart of what is bothering you. If it's helpful, you can also journal about ways to address the issue.
  • Talk to a good friend: For some of us, talking to a good friend can be a helpful release. The friend can listen, offer feedback (if you'd like that), and help you process how you'd like to deal with something (if you'd like that). Sometimes it's enough to simply hear what is stressing you said out loud. Some people find that once the thoughts are out of their head, it's easier to release them and move past them.
  • Join a support group: Living with rheumatoid arthritis can make you feel like no one understands your pain, but there are people who do. Find a support group in your area (your doctor may be able to help with this). The people there will be able to validate and share your emotions—in a safe, encouraging environment.
  • Set aside time for yourself: Simplify your life by balancing your time commitments, controlling information overload, and scheduling time to pursue activities such as meditating, exercising, reading a book, learning a new hobby, or even taking a bubble bath.

Stress can feel overwhelming. As you live with rheumatoid arthritis, it's essential to find ways to address and reduce stress in your life. By taking daily steps to deal with what you're facing, you can limit the effects of stress on your rheumatoid arthritis.

Updated on: 01/19/16
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Floranne Ernste, MD
This article was reviewed by Floranne Ernste, MD.
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