Rheumatoid arthritis is a tough disease to manage, especially when it comes to physical limitations and energy deficits. The disease can take a toll on your body, causing fatigue, stiff and painful joints, and an overall feeling of being unwell.
It’s common for people with rheumatoid arthritis to experience a decline in their occupational and social activities, which can make managing the disease even harder. But there is help available in the form of disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) and biological medications. And though they may help manage the disease, they don’t cure it. That means you’ll have to continue taking your medications for the rest of your life.
And while that may be okay with some people, others may want to know if there’s something they can do to manage the disease more effectively.
To help you with your management goals, we’ve compiled a list of five things you can do to improve your rheumatoid arthritis management. From sticking to a healthy lifestyle to working with a RA coach, these goals are sure to help you feel better and get back to the things you love.
1) Developing a Morning Routine
Rheumatoid arthritis isn’t something you can cure overnight. But you can make positive changes to your lifestyle that will help you feel better and become more active. If you’re working a desk job, it may be difficult to stay active during the day. That’s why it’s so important to develop good habits in the morning, before work.
We suggest creating a morning routine that involves getting up at least 30 minutes early to do a full-body routine that includes stretching and strengthening exercises. Just five minutes of exercise will help get your blood flowing and warm up your joints before you start the day. Try yoga poses or gentle stretches if it’s too painful for you to move around too much in the morning.
This way, when you sit down at your desk all day long, at least you’ve already done some of the things (like moving around) that your joints need from you. You’ll find yourself feeling less stiff and sore as the day goes on. And if you plan in enough time for this routine every single day, then it won’t be too difficult for you to stick to it!
Here are some additional tips to get you on the right track:
- -Block out time in your calendar for things you enjoy, like going for a walk, reading a book, or meditating.
- -Try waking up before everyone else so you can really soak in some quiet time during the morning (this is especially helpful if you share a home with other people).
- -Rearrange your furniture so that you can get up without having to step on something sharp or run into the corner of a table.
- -Make sure you’re stocked with healthy breakfast food like oatmeal, fresh fruit, and nuts.
- -Set aside extra time in the morning for exercise. If it’s something you don’t normally have time for, try doing it first thing in the morning instead of after work—you’ll be more refreshed and energized by then.
2) Remaining Active Despite Joint Pain
Though it’s not always easy, remaining active is one of the best things you can do to manage your rheumatoid arthritis. Regardless of whether you’re in remission or experiencing symptoms, staying active is important because it keeps your muscles strong and flexible. Muscle atrophy can occur when joints are affected by inflammation, and this gradual decrease in physical strength can make daily tasks like climbing stairs more difficult over time.
To prevent muscle atrophy, try to engage in physical activity at least three times a week. Even if you don’t feel like you have the energy to participate in an exercise class or gym session, try a more mellow activity that won’t leave you exhausted afterward. Walking around the block or doing a few reps of light weightlifting at home will help keep your muscles healthy and strong—and it’ll also give you a chance to get some fresh air and enjoy the outdoors!
3) Maintaining Good Nutrition Habits
When you’re managing rheumatoid arthritis, it’s easy for the feeling of fatigue to set in quickly. And when you feel tired, your body has a difficult time working at peak performance levels. Your fatigue may come from inflammation or from the medications you take for your RA.
In some cases, it may be caused by a combination of both factors. Without enough energy to do the things you want—whether that means going to work, running errands, or just spending time with friends and family—you’ll be more inclined to give in to this fatigue and simply rest on the couch at home.
That can easily become a habit that’s hard to break, which isn’t good for your health or well-being. Maintaining good nutrition habits is one way you can increase your energy levels. By eating nutrient-rich foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains on a regular basis, you’ll give yourself enough energy to get through each day without feeling tired it all.
4) Learn Your Limits, Then Push Them a Little
Setting a goal of doing the things you love again is one of the best ways to manage your rheumatoid arthritis. But that doesn’t mean you should set yourself up for failure. Instead, start with small steps and work your way up to bigger ones as you get back into the swing of things. Start with a goal of getting dressed every day and then add in a couple more activities like walking around the block or taking an easy bike ride through the neighborhood. Once you’ve mastered those, try more challenging tasks like running errands or going on a family bike ride. It’s okay if you have bad days or if something gets in the way—just try not to make excuses and push through.
Give yourself some time to work up to harder tasks and build your strength back up so that you can be active again without feeling like you’re going to have a flare-up. You might have to take frequent breaks at first as your body gets used to moving again, but with time, you’ll be able to do more than ever before.
5) Educate Yourself About RA
Rheumatoid arthritis is a serious disease, but there are steps you can take to manage it and keep it from controlling your life. One of the essential things you need to do, though, is learning as much as you can about RA. The more information you have about the disease, the better equipped you’ll be to make decisions that affect your life. If you don’t know what kind of treatment options are available to you or how they work, or if you’re unsure about which ones are right for your situation—then how will you be able to make an informed decision? And if you don’t know what the side effects of the medicines might be, or if they’ll interact with your other medications—which ones would you want to take?
The more information you have at your disposal, the easier it will be for you to manage your rheumatoid arthritis. And when it comes time for a doctor’s appointment or a check-up, having as much information in tow as possible will ensure that all of your questions are answered, and all of your concerns addressed. It’s also a good idea to keep up with current research and studies on rheumatoid arthritis management.
6) Get Expert Help from RA Coach
While the medications you take will help you manage rheumatoid arthritis, it’s important to remember that they’re not a cure. They can treat the symptoms and slow down the progression of the disease, but they won’t eliminate it. That means that you’ll need to continue taking them every day for the rest of your life. But with proper management, you’ll be able to live a long and healthy life, free from much of the pain and stiffness brought on by the disease. And taking care of your body is just one aspect of management—you’ll also want to take care of your mind. That means working to stay positive and making sure that you’re doing everything you can to live your best life.
A great way to do this is by working with an RA coach. An RA coach can offer guidance, support, and encouragement as you work toward achieving goals that are specific to managing rheumatoid arthritis. Whether it’s helping you stick to medication schedules or practicing self-care through various stress-relieving tactics, an RA coach can offer their expertise in helping you meet your goals.