Self-care: Lockdown advice from young people with arthritis

14 April 2020
Two young people Sammy and Jasmine.

Young people with arthritis are amongst those who have been classed as ‘vulnerable’ during COVID-19. For many, this means no more school, university, or seeing friends, while some are even shielding from family members at home.

We asked Jasmine and Sammy who both have arthritis, how they're managing and what advice they’d give to others. Here’s what they said:

“It’s okay to feel lonely, it’s a challenging time for everyone.”

Jasmine is 20 and was diagnosed with juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) when she was just one and associated uveitis aged two.

“I take biologic immune-suppressant therapy and steroids to manage my condition, making me an extremely high-risk patient during the coronavirus outbreak. Because of this, I had to stop attending university lectures and public gatherings earlier than my friends and family had to, and I currently cannot attend my part-time job.

“It’s an anxious time for everybody but being in a high-risk group can feel even more so, especially with all the uncertainty.

“I’m now self-isolating at home with my family who are ‘shielding’ me. It’s been difficult knowing that I cannot leave the house for the foreseeable future. My condition is invisible, so most people wouldn’t look at me and realise that I could be of such high-risk.”

“At home, I’m currently trying to stay as occupied as possible, keeping up with university work and revision, trying new activities such as painting or drawing but also trying to keep my joints mobile by walking around my house and trying gentle exercise like Pilates.

“I usually attend Pilates once a week – so even though my classes are online now this has brought some normality back into my routine which is really helpful! I have also been having weekly catch ups with friends over facetime/video call to check in on each other and keep in touch whilst we can’t meet up.

Jasmine’s advice

“Stay in contact with relatives or friends. Have weekly catch ups or video calls and always make sure to talk to somebody if ever you are feeling lonely. It’s okay to feel that way, it’s a challenging time for everyone.

“Keeping up with a routine and self-care is really important at the moment, simple things like freshening up, even if you’re not leaving the house can help – something small like doing your hair or makeup, can boost you mentally and help you feeling more energised and refreshed."

Read our advice on looking after your wellbeing.

“Try not to think about the things you can’t do and focus on all the things you can do!”

Sammy is 23 and was diagnosed with JIA when she was 11.

“Honestly, the whole situation hit me hard when they mentioned people on immune suppressants having to stay inside for 12 weeks. A wave of stress and anxiety came over me.

“I’m lucky enough to have come off methotrexate, but my heart was heavy for everyone who takes it regularly. I know 12 weeks of lockdown seems so overwhelming, but I would honestly say; this is the best time to concentrate on yourself!

“Having a routine does not mean you have to get up at 7:30am to be productive. It just helps to give more structure to your day. I’m personally taking this opportunity to be healthy without the distractions.

“I really enjoy a home workout! There are so many easy (and free) ones on YouTube. I enjoy sessions that only last 6-10 mins: it’s a short, snappy way to start the day. I do a lot of low impact ones, to make sure I don’t hurt my knee and ankles.

“A little yoga session is amazing too. I’m not flexible or fit at all; but there are so many easy yoga sessions to follow on YouTube. You just have to remember with yoga – do what feels comfortable and rewarding for you, your body and your joints!

“If your body is screaming out for you have a lazy day, give yourself the rest you need. Once you’ve done that, you’ll already feel like you’ve accomplished something!

“In the last few weeks, I’ve also kept busy by decluttering my house! You need lots of time for this, so it’s an ideal opportunity, and why not also make some fun scrapbooks with the memories you find.

“If you keep busy during the day, when It comes to the evening you will appreciate watching a film or Netflix, and if you speak to people over Facetime or Houseparty, then you’ll have something to share and talk about too."

Sammy’s advice

“Keep a positive mindset during this time and be grateful for what you do have. Try not to think about all the things you can’t do or can’t change, but focus on all the things you can do!

“Use this time to learn new things or skills, pick up that book you have always wanted to read, use the technology we have to talk to the people you never had time to before, enjoy some great TV shows and just take some time for yourself!

“It’s okay to feel stressed and worried but we are all in this together!”

Our services

If you or a family member under the age of 25 has arthritis, our Young People and Families service is here to support.

Our service offers advice on how to live well with arthritis, medication and potential treatments, as well as creating a safe space to ask questions, receive information and develop support networks.

Our face-to-face services have changed during COVID-19, but you can find out more about what’s going on via your local Young People and Family service.

We’re here for you

We’re working with the NHS, health professional organisations and charities to ensure that we’re regularly updating coronavirus information on our website to ensure you have the most up-to-date and relevant content available.

If you’re feeling isolated from family and friends during these uncertain times, we’re here for you.

  • If you would like to talk to someone, you can call our free helpline on 0800 5200 520 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm)
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