Arthritis-Friendly Hobbies and Activities
The physical and emotional changes caused by living with chronic arthritis may make it necessary for you to change how you do many things, and even require you to give up some. The ultimate blow would be giving up a hobby or activity that is your passion, which hopefully doesn't have to happen. By modifying and adapting the activity, you can probably still participate.
Keeping active with a hobby or activity you enjoy helps your mental outlook, and also helps your range of motion, though it does not replace regular exercise. You have to be careful about overusing joints and increasing pain. At times you are active with your hobby, you may need to adjust analgesic medications. That's something to discuss with your doctor.
The Arthritis Foundation has suggested that hobbies have a positive effect on people with arthritis by diverting their attention away from pain and other problems associated with the disease. Studies have shown that hobbies have health benefits, both physical and psychological.
You may have more leisure time if you stop working. You will need to fill your time with activities you find relaxing and pleasurable. Many people with arthritis enjoy reading, gardening, playing cards, embroidery, and sewing to name just a few activities. Generally, you will find that adaptive equipment which helps you hold objects will make a big difference in how your hands feel after working at your hobby.
For instance, gardening is made easier by using long-handled garden tools to compensate for reaching. Ergonomic handles on trowels, hand-held hoes, and planting scoops make gardening tasks easier. Raised flower beds also eliminate bending, which is normally required while gardening. Perennial plants rather than annuals require less work.
You will be able to read longer if you rest your book on a level surface. If you like to read in bed, place the book against a wedge pillow or a book holder. Playing cards can be made easier by using card holders or automatic card shufflers.
Embroidery is more easily managed if you use embroidery hoops attached to frames or that can be clamped to a table. Crochet hooks and knitting needles can be hard to maneuver. A nifty trick is to take the sponge off of hair rollers and slip them over knitting needles to improve your grip. Self-threading sewing needles or sewing machines which have automatic threading features are great for people who love to sew.
Most people with hand arthritis have difficulty gripping. Items with bulkier handles work best, but if you need a quick or temporary solution, try wrapping bubble wrap around something you need to get a handle on. Gripping shelf liner is great for wrapping around thinner handles (e.g., artist tools, sketching pencils) to make them thicker. The shelf liner works well underneath anything that slips away, which is its actual intended use.
Before giving up your favorite hobby, be creative and innovative when trying to find alternative ways that will allow you to continue enjoying it. Ergonomic equipment has become very popular, so it is not that hard to find. Some hobbies like dancing or boating may be harder to continue. It's important not to give up a hobby unless you absolutely have no other option. It is critical to replace any activity or hobby you have to give up with another. You may be replacing it with a more sedentary activity in some cases, but it's important to occupy your time with something else you enjoy doing. Give yourself a chance to develop new passions. Your pain, stress, and negative emotions will be less if you keep yourself truly interested in one or more activities.