Taking ownership and an integrated approach to your health is critical when you have arthritis.
Let’s face it – living with arthritis is not for the faint-hearted. Anyone who is otherwise healthy and fit can complain bitterly at a muscle or joint pain incurred during a sports game – but they heal and get back to normal soon.
For those with arthritis, having permanent (and worsening) pain, stiffness, lack of mobility – can be a drain on your internal resources, most of all your personal sense of motivation to get up and at it every day!
When I saw this on the CDC website, I wondered if this is an example of the chicken vs. egg conundrum. Do depression, anxiety, and other mental health concerns cause the pain, or does the pain cause the mental health deterioration? Maybe it’s a bit of both. There is definitely a correlation. (This article also addresses this topic – if you want to read another opinion.)
In my talks about Haraka and about Reclaiming Your Limber Life, I address the importance of whole health – an integrated approach to living life in such a way that you can still be active, healthy, emotionally resilient, and spiritually centered. I wanted to unpack a bit more on the mental health and emotional resilience in this article.
In the treatment of trauma related psychological impact, psychologists refer to an “internal” and “external” locus of control. (Locus of control is a concept created by psychologist Julian Rotter (1954). Read more about it here.)
Understanding Locus of Control in the Context of Arthritis
Simply put – having an internal LOC is about taking ownership. It’s recognizing that you are in control of your thoughts, emotions, and actions. You have arthritis (assuming you’ve been diagnosed). Now, you have a choice.
You get angry, and/or feel sorry for yourself, blame your heritage, your doctor, the health system, or…[fill in the blank.] This is taking an EXTERNAL LOC approach. In other words, YOU are not in control and YOU are not the problem – it’s something or someone else.
You are upset and frustrated, but recognize that you can take charge and make the best choices to support your body. This is taking an INTERNAL LOC approach. You may not be able to change the reality of the condition – and we know that arthritis isn’t “curable” – but you can change and take charge of how you manage it from this point forward.
In the world of health management, patient ownership is such a critical component of longevity and quality of life. No matter your health situation, don’t give up your power of knowledge and choice. Internal LOC is the foundation of being responsible and taking ownership over your health.
It frustrates (even angers) me, when I hear people talk about their health conditions and medications and say there’s nothing they can do, they just take whatever medications the doctor gives them. In fact, so many patients – especially over 65 – are taking way too many medications!
Just as the younger generation would say, “there’s an APP for that, the older generation say, there’s a PILL for that!” In fact, did you know that the USA, in just the past 10 years, the number of prescriptions issued each year is 3.5 billion! Read more on that here.
We have all fallen into the medication “trap” at times – maybe you’re still stuck there. Hear me on this, DON’T ever just stop taking medication without discussing it with your doctor. This I more about taking responsibility for what you are swallowing – both food and drinks and pills – every day.
Being healthy is a combination of factors, starting with your own mindset shift. From today, take ownership – realize YOU are in charge of your body, your health, your longevity.
Here are some specific steps to take for whole health, integrated life management. Trust me – the more of these steps you implement, the better you will feel, and the more fulfilling, joyful, and healthy your life will be.
7 Steps to Take to Become the Boss of Your Health
1. Know the Facts:
Know what conditions you have and how they are best managed or cured (if possible) and what you can do besides taking medication. Do regular research through online searches, books, articles. Research is constantly being updated – stay informed.
2. Know Your Medications:
Write down the names of each of them, dosages, and the reason they were prescribed. Discuss this with your doctor or health professional, with a goal of deciding what should be reduced or eliminated. The goal should be to reduce your intake wherever possible, while not endangering your health.
An example of this from my own history was years ago when my doctor mentioned that I would probably not need to take a blood pressure pill, if I gave up drinking beer and just walked more often. I did both. I came off the med’s more than a year ago and my BP remains stable, as long as I follow that guideline…
3. Know Your Supplements – the other “box of bottles”
Write down everything you are taking and why. Take this list to a functional medicine doctor, or nutritional professional. (Not a bad idea to discuss this list with your medical doctor, too, to avoid any drug interactions.) Even though we are a supplement provider, we always warn our customers to be informed – understand the ingredients and what they might be doing – both good and bad. Just because something is “natural” doesn’t mean it’s good for you. Not every supplement is necessary for every person.
If you are truly ready to change your lifestyle, and take charge of your health, I highly recommend The Healthy Deviant by Pilar Gerasimo. I had the privilege of meeting and interviewing Pilar for a podcast some time back.
4. Watch Your Diet:
Much of our health issues are the result of, or aggravated by, incorrect eating. Find what is best for you, your age, your health conditions, and make a commitment to put health first. While small indulgences are OK now and again, make healthy eating the default in your life. Set some goals and commit to it – your future self will thank you.
5. Get Moving:
No matter your health conditions, there are forms of exercise you can do. Research. Get moving. Even a short walk twice a day is a good start. Read some of our blogs about exercising. Talk to your local gym or YMCA about free or low cost programs. (Silver Sneakers is a great option if you’re over 65)
6. Choose Happy:
As simple as it sounds, making a choice to be happy, more positive, and fully engaged in life is in your hands. As you wake up each morning, make a conscious, intentional choice to find your happy. Your mindset and even your response to the bad stuff that may happen, remains a choice, and remains in YOUR power.
7. Be Quiet:
Choose to find time every day to be quiet. Whether it’s prayer, or meditation, or just a quiet piece of music while you breathe deeply, chose to nurture your soul. Always being busy, and interacting with people and media, will drain your spiritual energy. Keep it recharged.
Bottom line: YOU are the Boss of your health. Start now. Have fun. Be well.
Here's the your Limber Life.