Useful lifestyle hints to help reduce the impact of psoriatic arthritis on your day-to day life
A healthy lifestyle is essential for people with a chronic condition such as psoriatic arthritis. To help manage the disease, it is important that you keep active, and have a healthy diet, control your weight, avoid smoking and limit alcohol use.
It's important to avoid being overweight so you do not put extra strain on your joints.
Excessive amounts of alcohol can make your psoriasis symptoms worse, so try and limit how much alcohol you drink.
If you have severe psoriatic arthritis, you may benefit from avoiding alcohol altogether.
The risks of smoking are well known, and there is increasing evidence that smoking can make psoriatic arthritis considerably worse. If you smoke, consider cutting down or stopping completely – talk to your doctor for advice on quitting.
You should aim for a healthy, balanced diet:
- Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables
- Eat wholegrain cereals
- Eat low fat dairy products
- Choose lean meats and poultry without skin
- Oily fish such as salmon, trout and herring can lower your risk of heart disease
- Try and cut back on saturated fats (such as butter) and vegetable oils – use olive oil instead
- Cut down on foods and drinks containing added sugars
- Pre-packaged convenience food and fast food can often contain hidden calories and high levels of fat and salt, so try to eat fresh, homemade foods instead
- Keep an eye on your portion size
It may be useful to keep a food diary for a couple of weeks to track what you are eating and drinking, and to identify places where you could make healthier choices.
Although it is important for everyone, learning to cope with stress is especially important if you have psoriatic arthritis. Avoiding stress is sometimes easier said than done, but the following advice could help:
- Try to identify situations that you find stressful, then take steps to avoid them or reduce their impact on you
- If you realise you're feeling stressed, take conscious steps to try and relax – techniques such as deep breathing, yoga or meditation can all help to clear your mind and reduce anxiety
- Speak to your doctor about the relaxation techniques you would like to try, or other methods that could help you to manage stress
Relationships can be complicated when you have a disease like psoriatic arthritis. There are some simple steps that you can take to ensure that you are in control of your relationship. If you are just starting a relationship, it can be difficult to tell the person you are dating that you have psoriatic arthritis, but use your judgement to decide when and what to say about your condition.
Honesty is key. Although it may be tempting to try and hide away if you have psoriatic arthritis, it is important to let your partner or spouse know how you feel – especially if psoriatic arthritis is getting you down.
Most people with psoriatic arthritis can continue with work, but some people may need to make adjustments to their working life. Schedule time with your supervisor to discuss how psoriatic arthritis may affect your performance, including doctor appointments and the use of assistive devices. When at work, it is important to remember to make your workspace comfortable. If you sit for long periods of time, you should get up and move around regularly to reduce pain and stiffness in the joints.
For many people, psoriatic arthritis can be an isolating condition. Finding support from others who understand how you feel and what you are going through could help you cope if you are finding things difficult. Support groups can increase your self-confidence, reduce feelings of isolation, and give you practical advice on dealing with your condition from others who have gone through the same experience. They can give you a chance to talk about things that someone without psoriatic arthritis may not understand, from coping at work to finding psoriasis-friendly clothes for an upcoming event. Support groups can also give you the opportunity to help others by sharing your experiences.
There are national psoriatic arthritis communities that you could get involved with, including:
If you are not sure if there is a support group in your area, talk to your doctor or nurse to find out if one is available, or check notice boards in health centres and pharmacies. If you find there isn’t a support group locally, you could think about starting one yourself. Alternatively, try exploring the psoriatic arthritis groups and communities that exist on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, where you can share how you feel with others.