Using Creativity to Cope With Rheumatoid Arthritis

Using Creativity to Cope With Rheumatoid Arthritis

By Rheumatoid Connect StaffA Published at November 28, 2016 Views 6,667 Comments 1 Likes 1

Lou Cabeen is an artist who spent years creating large, museum-quality, hand-woven textiles. But, as she told Everyday Health, making them became difficult as her rheumatoid arthritis worsened. Rather than give up her livelihood and personal passion, she switched mediums, focusing on smaller mixed-media projects. She found ways to work around some of the physical limitations of her RA. Cabeen said that continuing to express her creativity gave her a valuable outlet. Even if you're not a professional artist, creativity can be an important coping mechanism for anyone with RA. Here's what to do.

Keep it simple

Cabeen switched mediums because creating textiles was difficult and required too many repetitive movements. To avoid that pain, choose a creative outlet that isn't physically taxing. Painting, for instance, could be a good choice, since you can take your time and contemplate your work between brushstrokes. You may also want to be a storyteller; if writing proves too difficult, you can use a speech-to-text program to turn your words into printed pages. The point is to find a satisfying hobby that doesn't worsen the condition. If you're not sure how far to push your physical abilities, talk with your doctor about what you can do and for how long.

Creating art can be a great outlet for feelings of depression or anxiety.

Never be afraid

You might feel nervous about what others will think of, say, a short story or a landscape painting you've spent hours creating. But as Health Central points out, it's important to let yourself create without worrying about those opinions. Creative hobbies are meant for your enjoyment and to help you live better while coping with RA. You don't even have to show your work to anyone. The only gauge of success that matters is how you feel about your it. If you want to learn more about your craft and you’re comfortable working around others, though, consider taking a class. It can be a great way to improve your skills and your self-esteem with encouragement from your instructor and other students.

Use your feelings

As Health magazine notes, people with RA are twice as likely to develop depression as others. Having RA may leave you feeling isolated, with no control over your life or body. But rather than letting those feelings get to you, channel them into your art. For example, if you feel sad one day, write about why and what kind of resolution you'd like to see. Or use some of those same feelings to paint, expressing your emotion with every colorful stroke of your brush. Creating great art is often about venting feelings. As Psych Central explains, creative pursuits can be an effective way to deal with difficult feelings like stress and anxiety.

Try something new, or get better at something you already enjoy. There’s nothing to lose, and you just might find that it makes life with RA a little brighter.

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