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Arthritis Warriors: Nurturing Mental Health and Resilience for Professionals


Professional executive woman with arthritis meditating to find life balance amidst chaotic workload

Introduction

As professionals living with arthritis, we embark on a unique journey—one that calls for unwavering strength, resilience, and a deep commitment to our mental wellbeing. In the face of challenges, we are the Arthritis Warriors, rising above adversity and thriving in our careers. In this article, I'll share essential practices to help you nurture your mental health and develop the resilience needed to thrive on your professional path. By incorporating these simple activities into your daily lives, you can enhance your wellbeing, develop resilience, and embrace the path of Arthritis Warriors—empowered, capable, and thriving in both your personal and professional endeavours.




Brass scales on turquoise background representing finding life balance

1. Creating Life Balance

Striking a balance between our demanding careers, personal life, and arthritis management can feel like a juggling act. However, achieving life balance is essential for sustained wellbeing. Start by setting realistic expectations and boundaries. Embrace the power of saying "no" to avoid overcommitting yourself. Acknowledge that perfection is unattainable and embrace the idea of a balanced life that suits your unique circumstances.



Activity: Try time-blocking to create better life balance. In this exercise, allocate specific time blocks for work, personal activities, and arthritis management. It helps ensure that essential aspects of life receive dedicated attention and can prevent burnout.


Instructions:

  1. Divide a weekly planner or calendar into sections representing work, personal life, and self-care.

  2. Identify the most critical tasks and commitments for each area.

  3. Allocate specific time blocks for work-related tasks, personal activities, and self-care practices.

  4. Set boundaries and honour these time blocks, giving equal importance to work and personal life.

  5. Reflect on how this time-blocking exercise has impacted your overall sense of balance and productivity.




Professional woman with eyes closed lifting her face to the sun in a moment of mindfulness as part of her daily self-care routine

2. Making Time for Self-Care

In our relentless pursuit of professional excellence, self-care can often take a backseat. However, self-care is not a luxury—it is a vital pillar of mental wellbeing, especially for professionals living with arthritis. Carve out time for activities that nourish your mind, body, and soul. Engage in hobbies that bring joy, practice mindfulness, or take short restorative breaks throughout the day. Prioritise self-care without feeling guilty; it's an investment in your ability to thrive that benefits both you and those around you.


Activity: Incorporate a simple mindful breathing break during your busy workday to make time for self-care and reduce stress.


Instructions:

  1. Find a quiet and comfortable space where you won't be disturbed.

  2. Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths to relax.

  3. Inhale slowly for a count of four, feeling the breath fill your lungs.

  4. Exhale slowly for a count of six, releasing any tension.

  5. Repeat this deep breathing for at least five breaths or as needed.

  6. After the exercise, notice any changes in your mental state and how this break has impacted your focus and productivity.




Stressed man standing in the sunshine with hands on head while he thinks representing the need to be aware of negative thoughts and challenge them

3. Being Aware of Negative Thought Traps

Living with arthritis or chronic pain can sometimes lead us into negative thought traps, where we dwell on limitations and fears. Recognise these patterns and challenge them. Replace self-doubt with self-compassion and give yourself permission to make mistakes and learn from them. Acknowledge your thoughts without judgment and reframe them into opportunities for growth and resilience with positive affirmations. Remember, you have the power to shift your perspective.


Activity: Practice thought journaling to become more aware of negative thought traps and reframe them.


Instructions:

  1. Carry a small notebook or use a digital journaling app.

  2. Whenever you notice a negative thought arising, write it down in the journal.

  3. Reflect on the thought's validity and evidence supporting it.

  4. Challenge the negative thought by asking yourself if there is a more positive or realistic perspective. Coaching is a powerful support for this process.

  5. Reframe the negative thought into a more empowering statement.

  6. Over time, review the thought journal to identify recurring negative thought patterns and celebrate progress in changing them.




Two smiling women talking to each other as part of a supportive work network while drinking water in an office kitchen

4. Accepting When You Need to Ask for Help

Arthritis Warriors are strong, but even the strongest warriors need support at times. Recognise that asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness. Whether at work or in personal life, reach out to colleagues, friends, or family when needed. Embrace a support network that understands your journey and uplifts you. It's okay to lean on others; together, we are stronger. Together, we can thrive.



Activity: Actively build a support network and practise asking for help when needed.


Instructions:

  1. Identify individuals in your personal and professional circles who are understanding and supportive.

  2. Initiate conversations with these individuals about your arthritis journey and the challenges you face.

  3. Practise asking for assistance or sharing your feelings when necessary.

  4. Pay attention to the response received and how it makes you feel supported and empowered.

  5. Reflect on the experience, noting any shifts in your attitude towards seeking help and building a robust support network.



Two professional men laughing and celebrating strengths whilst sat outside drinking coffee

5. Focusing on Your Strengths

In the face of challenges, harness the power of your strengths. Celebrate your professional achievements, both big and small. Recognise the resilience you demonstrate daily while managing arthritis, excelling in your career and pursuing your professional goals. By acknowledging your strengths, you build a solid foundation for greater resilience.


Activity: Take some time to reflect on your strengths and how you've demonstrated them in various areas of life, including your careers.


Instructions:

  1. Make a list of personal and professional strengths you believe you possess.

  2. Recall specific instances where you utilised these strengths to overcome challenges or achieve success.

  3. Write a short narrative or journal entry detailing these instances and how your strengths made a difference.

  4. Revisit this strengths reflection regularly as a reminder of your abilities and resilience.


Conclusion

As Arthritis Warriors, we possess a unique blend of strength, determination, and resilience that fuels our professional pursuits. Nurturing our mental health forms the core of our ability to conquer challenges and achieve success; a testament to our dedication to both our careers and personal growth.


Let us embrace life balance, prioritise self-care, and be mindful of negative thought traps. Remember, seeking help is not a sign of weakness; it is a powerful act of self-awareness and courage. With unwavering focus on our strengths, we rise above adversity and thrive as professionals navigating careers with arthritis.


Together, we are the Arthritis Warriors—empowered, resilient, and unyielding in our pursuit of success and wellbeing.



Tamara Judge the author of this post standing in front of turquoise wooden wall holding three coloured notebooks

Author: Tamara Judge


Bio: Tamara is a positive psychology consultant, coach and the founder of Keystone Coaching. She combines her expert knowledge in multidimensional positive psychology and coaching with her lived experience of rheumatoid arthritis to help professionals with chronic illness to thrive in their life and career. Tamara is passionate about raising the profile of wellbeing for professionals with autoimmune conditions, and empowering individuals & leaders to support, actively engage in & value opportunities for self-care.


She is an accredited coach at Senior Practitioner Level with the EMCC, holds an MSc in Applied Positive Psychology & Coaching Psychology from the University of East London and is a qualified Mindfulness & Meditation Teacher.



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