The chronic pain and day-to-day difficulty of severe osteoporosis, or extreme bone fragility, can take a toll on your emotional health. “Because people with severe osteoporosis can’t do some of the things they once did, they can become less active and socially isolated,” explains clinical psychologist Robert Jamison, PhD, associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. “This contributes to depression and anxiety—and the more anxious and depressed they are, the worse their pain will be.”
One way to lift your spirits (and even extend your life) is to cultivate a more positive attitude. According to a study of more than 100,000 women at the University of Pittsburgh, optimistic women were 14% more likely than pessimistic ones to be alive after eight years. The reason? Researchers speculate that optimists likely have more friends and deal better with stress.
What have you got to lose? Try one of these tips to boost your mood—and your bone health—today!
“Understand the condition and the best options for treatment,” says Jamison. Knowledge undercuts fear and anxiety. Talk to your doctor and check information at the American Pain Society (www.ampainsoc.org) and the American Chronic Pain Association (www.theacpa.org).
“Walk every day, even if you have a walker,” says psychologist Laurie Ferguson, PhD, vice president of research and education at Global Health Living Foundation in Upper Nyack, NY. “When we move, we feel better.” Movement generates endorphins, the body’s natural mood lifters and pain killers. And exercise can be calming. Ferguson suggests stair stepping, yoga stretches or tai chi, all of which focus on slow, deliberate joint movements.
Relaxation techniques banish stress and release tight muscles. “Start with deep breathing and mindfulness meditation,” which focuses attention on present sensations, says Ferguson.
Visit with friends, family or people who make you laugh. “It can be as simple as meeting a loved one at a local coffee shop,” says Ferguson. Or try volunteering or tutoring. A University of Michigan study found that those who volunteered to help others were more likely to live longer than non-volunteers or those who volunteered for personal or social benefits.
Thoughts affect how you feel, explains Ferguson. Instead of worrying about falling, focus on everything you’re doing to keep your bones healthy. “This type of thinking," says Ferguson, "starts the upward spiral of confidence and hopefulness.”