For people suffering from both chronic pain and depression, making specific holistic life changes—which focus on social, psychological and personal factors—will contribute substantially to easing everyday symptoms. These lifestyle changes support a sense of well-being in most people, regardless of their health, but for people with chronic pain and depression they are especially meaningful.

Two main benefits of holistic life changes for people with chronic arthritis pain include:

  • Making it easier to cope with pain by decreasing the perception of pain
  • Easing depression by helping to counteract negative thinking

For anyone coping with chronic pain from a type of arthritis (or similar chronic condition), these changes are relatively easy to make and will lead to a meaningful and sustained reduction in pain and depression.

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Meaningful Holistic Life Changes

Holistic life changes that have been shown to help ease chronic pain and depression include:

  1. Feel moved by beauty. Treat the senses to rich and meaningful forms of beauty, such as listening to music,1 spending time outdoors,2 or participating in the arts.3 It is important to choose activities that appeal to one's unique interests and passions. If there is a lack of interest, there will be a lack of motivation.
  2. Get lost in the flow. Keeping occupied, preferably with something that allows one to experience “flow” in the work. Researchers have found the arts, crafting, and performing home repairs, for example, can stimulate the neurological system and enhance overall health and feelings of well-being.4
  3. Lighten up. Increasing time spent outdoors during daylight can help prevent Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), as can the use of a lightbox.5 Depression is linked to insufficient Vitamin D levels, which can be boosted by regular exposure to UV light.
  4. Exercise regularly. Engaging in regular exercise, especially vigorous exercise, improves mood6 and overall health.7 It is important to choose exercise that is easily completed, interesting, and within one’s physical capabilities.


  5. Experience success. Setting realistic goals, and then breaking larger tasks into more manageable pieces can be helpful.8 The aim to is have “success” experiences and avoid what might feel like “failure” experiences.

References

  1. PubMed.gov. The impact of group music therapy on depression and cognition in elderly persons with dementia: a randomized controlled study. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23639952. Accessed on May 14, 2015.
  2. PubMed.gov. Does participating in physical activity in outdoor natural environments have a greater effect on physical and mental wellbeing than physical activity indoors? A systematic review. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21291246. Accessed on May 14, 2015.
  3. NIH News in Health. How the Arts Affect Your Health. http://newsinhealth.nih.gov/2008/June/docs/01features_01.htm. Accessed on May 14, 2015.

Complete Listing of References

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