Every day, rheumatology patients live with the realities of having a chronic disease that requires a lifetime of treatment. This knowledge can be an emotional burden, and some people deal with it better than others. Emerging research is showing that those patients who exhibit emotional control are better able to cope and ultimately experience a greater quality of life relative to their treatment. The skill of being able to see past intense emotions, to focus on reality in the moment and to respond unemotionally is known as mindfulness.
A growing body of research links mindfulness practices to improved outcomes in chronic disease and chronic pain. In rheumatology, studies have shown benefits among patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), fibromyalgia and psoriasis.
Mindful meditation can help you cope with the challenges of a life with arthritis.
“Mindfulness practice doesn’t have to be spiritual. It can be a way to connect to a particular religion, but it doesn’t in any way shape or form have to do that. … For me, it’s exercising to train your brain to have focus, attention and emotional regulation. It’s a way of engaging in the present moment without attachment and without judgment.” ~ says AnneMarie Rossi
The goal of mindfulness is to maintain awareness moment by moment, disengaging oneself from strong attachment to beliefs, thoughts, or emotions, thereby developing a greater sense of emotional balance and well-being. The original purpose of mindfulness in Buddhism—to alleviate suffering and cultivate compassion—suggests a potential role for this practice with medical patients and practitioners.
Recent research has shown that mindfulness has application for:
- Treating anxiety and mood problems in clinical populations (i.e., cancer, generalized anxiety disorder, depression, other psychiatric or medical conditions
- Remediating sleep problems among older adults and reducing sleep-related daytime impairment.
- Significantly reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression among cancer patients and survivors with symptoms of anxiety and depression
With regard to rheumatology, mindfulness practices have shown application for:
- Improving psychological distress, self-efficacy pain and symptoms, emotional processing, fatigue, self-care ability, and overall well-being in patients with inflammatory rheumatic joint diseases
- Protecting against psychological distress associated with disability in patients with RA
- Complementing medical disease management in patients with RA by improving psychological distress and strengthening well-being
- Alleviating symptoms in patients with fibromyalgia
- Improving the efficacy of traditional therapies for psoriasis.
Original Article: Mindfulness May Improve Medical Efficacy in Rheumatology Patients