Arthritis is a life-long condition that can be debilitating for those that suffer from it. Arthritis affects different aspects of patient’s lives, including work. Patients often find that they are limited in what they can do at work depending on how well-controlled their arthritis is and what joints are affected.
For example, if you do manual labor, you may no longer be able to carry out that type of work or if you have arthritis of the fingers, or you may no longer be able to type for a longer period of time. While this can be discouraging, it is important to keep in mind that the right type of work is not only good for you financially but also for your general well-being. In fact, many arthritis patients have fulfilling work lives and therefore, it is definitely feasible to work.
Arthritis at work: Know your rights
Most countries have some some version of an act that provides rights to people with chronic disabilities. While you may not feel you like are disabled or that this protection extends to you, it is important to know that these laws exist. These rights are in place to protect you from any potential discrimination on the part of your employer.
These are the things you can ask your employer to make your work easier:
- Alter the tasks you are given if you can no longer perform them
- Changing work patterns and the hours you work or allow flexibility in working hours
- Bring in special equipment
- Allow you to leave when you need to for medical appointments
- Change around your roles so that you have less responsibility
- Move your desk to a place that is easier to access
- Buy a different office chair to make you more comfortable
- Buy or give you access to equipment that makes your work easier
- Allow you to work from home when you need to
- Allow you to work part-time
- Allow you to ask your colleagues to do tasks that are difficult for you
Discuss your arthritis-related challenges with coworkers
One of the best ways to cope with work-related issues is to talk to your colleagues or bosses. By talking to them and expressing your issues, they can help devise strategies that can address your problems. Unless you tell people how you feel, they will never know. It could just be that other people that you work with want to have a conversation regarding your abilities with your disease but are resistant to start a conversation.
Try to reduce triggers for your stress
When you can avoid triggers that cause you to be stressed out, you will feel a lot better. Some ways that can help reduce stress at work include:
- Stay organized
- Focus on your priorities
- Talk to people at work like your boss or manager if you feel you are unable to carry out a task
- In your free time, do exercise such as aerobic exercises which helps improve your mood and eases stress/worry
- If you are stressed at work, go for a walk during lunchtime which can also help improve your mood
- Spend your evenings doing things that are relaxing such as reading and listening to music
- Get good quality sleep at night
Go to a therapist if you feel consistently low
If you find that your mood is bad all the time, that you are anxious and/or depressed, then it might be time to go to a therapist who can use different techniques, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, to help you work through your issues. You can also go see a doctor to see if you would be a good candidate for medicines that can help anxiety and/or depression.
Maintain proper posture at work
Proper posture is necessary for joint health and having bad posture when you sit or stand can worsen your arthritis. This is because having bad posture can put strain on muscles and joints that weaken their structure. Also, make sure that you don’t stay in one position for too long as moving around regularly is beneficial for your health.
Take regular walks
Studies have shown that taking regular walks are beneficial for your overall health. Even just getting up for a little time to stretch can give your joints time to relax and keep other joints engaged.
Make sure your office equipment works for you
If you work in an office and mainly sit at a desk, it is important that you make sure that your desk, screen, chair and other equipment are set up properly and well positioned for you. Make sure everything is close by so you are not stretching yourself too often and make sure when you talk on the phone that you use headphone or a speaker phone.