Managing Stress

May 2021

Stress and Arthritis

Stress is the mind/body’s response to perceived fear or pressure. When you are in a demanding situation, you may have worrying thoughts and your brain releases chemicals that stimulate the rest of your body. This is why in stressful situations you may notice your heart beats faster, your breathing changes, blood pressure rises and/or muscles become tense.

Learning to manage stress is important for people with arthritis, otherwise it can lead to muscle tension, increased pain and depression or anxiety.

Managing stress involves two steps:

  1. Recognising when you are becoming stressed – learn to listen to your body and recognise the signs
  2. Finding activities that help to relieve stress. There are many ways you can reduce stress. Talk to your doctor and other members of your healthcare team to find solutions that work for you.

Tips for Managing Stress

Some things that you can do for yourself that will help manage stress include:

  • Being physically and mentally active – but don’t overdo it to the point of fatigue
  • Learning relaxation techniques – like meditation, yoga and tai chi
  • Learning deep breathing techniques – slowing and deepening your breathing will counteract the body’s stress response of fast, shallow breathing. Slow, deep breathing can also slow your heart rate
  • Talking to friends and your healthcare team about things you find stressful – researchers have found that some people also benefit from writing about stressful experiences
  • Learning what situations you find stressful and either avoiding them, changing them or learning how to use your relaxation techniques when they occur
  • Getting support from friends, family or other people with arthritis.

More Information and Support

Register for Arthritis Assist to speak one-on-one with someone else living with arthritis. 

Join one of our online support groups to connect with other Australians living with arthritis. 

Call our free infoline on 1800 011 041 to speak with a member of our health team.

Download some of our free booklets and information sheets on living well with arthritis.

Adapted from
10 Steps for Living Well with Arthritis (2019). Arthritis Australia