Connect with others who understand.

sign up log in
Resources
About myRAteam
Powered By

10 Tips to Feel in Control With RA

Posted on July 18, 2016

by Annette McKinnon

It’s easier to cope with chronic illness if you feel that you have some control over your life and your health. When everything seems to be spinning away from you, life is harder to manage.

I read a scientific paper called Dispositional optimism and coping with pain that discusses how your conviction about having control helps you to to deal with stressful experiences. It says:

“When analyzing the course of psychological processes of coping with pain, attention should be drawn to the factors which may support an individual in their efforts to reduce sensations or get control over stressful experiences. One of such factors is an individual’s conviction about having control over what happens in life or about the ability to influence and change the course of events.”

With chronic illness you are forced to be your own health manager so it is up to you to gather information to help you make better decisions. You need to learn skills for this complex task as you go along, because the days of good health and no worries are behind you. Yes, there is always the hope of having them return but in the meantime try to find the management style you are most comfortable with.

Here are my first and best ideas to help with this. More suggestions are welcome – please leave your ideas in the comments.

1. Gather a support community. The first suggestion I would make is to join an online group or community. They can be a great source of information and encouragement. It’s harder to find a physical real-time group than one that is online. It is also easier to spare the time for online efforts.

2. Educate yourself. Start small and learn the vocabulary of your specific problem. Then start learning more details. It makes a lot of difference if you know what the options are likely to be before you are faced with them. That helps you to stay in the front seat, even when you are not the driver.

3. Know your treatment options before you need them. Start collecting tips about good doctors, clinics, possible treatments and other types of health care professionals who may be able to help you. When you need them, it’s much easier to figure out if you keep track as you go along.

4. Try to build up a small surplus of your most essential medications. Every time you forget to take a medication, put it in your “extra” vial. You never know what can happen – hurricane, earthquake, pharmacy fire. You don’t want to be desperate because you are running out of medication. It’s another way to have control.

5. Write a journal or blog. Get your thoughts out of you head and put them in front of you. Talk back to them. There’s a post about that here about what it can do for you.

6. Plan ahead. It’s good to feel that you always have a possible “move” that you can still make. Whether I’m waiting to see how a new treatment works before going on to the next, or knowing a pain treatment possibility that I don’t always use or need, I feel much more in control if I have a strategy that may help if things get worse.

7. Be open to new ideas. There is little I rule out completely except things with no proof at all. In my case, though I feel that medication in general is working for me, I would consider trying massage, acupuncture, change of diet, specific exercise and so on. I’ve learned it’s a bad sign when people on social media try too hard to get you to use their remedy.

8. Improve at something. There are many free brain exercises, like Beat the Chimp. Tackling sudoku or crossword puzzles every day is another example of control, as is any creative and fulfilling experience you engage in, including crafts and puzzles. Engage your brain.

9. Find a way to be happy. Take a leaf out of Neil Pasricha‘s book and start your own Book of Awesome. There are many things in life that can lead to small moments of joy. Make a folder on your desktop and find a happy picture every day to put in it, for example.

10. Spend time with animals. Pets can keep you going when nothing else helps.

Annette McKinnon has lived with rheumatoid arthritis for 30 years. She spent the last 20 working full time in market research and now is involved in health advocacy and chronic illness awareness. This post originally appeared here and is reposted with permission.

All updates must be accompanied by text or a picture.

Related articles

Because the physical impact of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) can be all-consuming, you may be dealin...

How Rheumatoid Arthritis Can Affect Your Mental Health

Because the physical impact of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) can be all-consuming, you may be dealin...
Everyone experiences stress from time to time. But between managing medications, appointments, an...

Managing Stress With RA

Everyone experiences stress from time to time. But between managing medications, appointments, an...
Depression is a common symptom of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). As many as 41 percent of people with...

Depression and RA

Depression is a common symptom of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). As many as 41 percent of people with...
Those of us living with pre-existing, chronic conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA) have l...

Canceling Is Kindness: Keeping Safe From COVID-19 With RA

Those of us living with pre-existing, chronic conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA) have l...
This time of the year can be overwhelming with expectations around the holidays, and living with ...

Practicing Gratitude With Rheumatoid Arthritis

This time of the year can be overwhelming with expectations around the holidays, and living with ...
Living with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) can mean having limited energy, time, and bandwidth. You m...

Tap Into the Power of Directness: Use "I"

Living with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) can mean having limited energy, time, and bandwidth. You m...

Recent articles

Many people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) experiment with dietary interventions like following t...

7 Foods To Avoid When on Biologics

Many people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) experiment with dietary interventions like following t...
Ketogenic diets have grown in popularity, both among people wanting to lose excess body weight an...

The Ketogenic Diet and Rheumatoid Arthritis: 5 Things to Know

Ketogenic diets have grown in popularity, both among people wanting to lose excess body weight an...
Almost all myRAteam members have experienced a rheumatoid arthritis (RA) flare at some point. RA ...

How Long Do RA Flares Typically Last?

Almost all myRAteam members have experienced a rheumatoid arthritis (RA) flare at some point. RA ...
Discover what those with rheumatoid arthritis shouldn't eat and why. Click here for tips on avoid...

11 Foods and Drinks To Avoid With Rheumatoid Arthritis

Discover what those with rheumatoid arthritis shouldn't eat and why. Click here for tips on avoid...
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved updated boosters for messenger RNA (mRNA...

New COVID-19 Vaccine Boosters for Omicron: What To Know if You Have RA

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved updated boosters for messenger RNA (mRNA...
Maintaining a healthy weight can be difficult if you’re living with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). So...

Weight Gain and RA: 9 Ways To Manage Weight and Help Symptoms

Maintaining a healthy weight can be difficult if you’re living with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). So...
myRAteam My rheumatoid arthritis Team

Thank you for subscribing!

Become a member to get even more:

sign up for free

close