Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is one of the most common types of arthritis, affecting approximately 1.5 million Americans. Not all forms of arthritis are considered autoimmune, but RA falls in this category since the disease involves the immune system mistakenly attacking the joints. This leads to inflammation that causes the tissue inside the joints to thicken, resulting in pain and swelling.

The effects of rheumatoid arthritis aren’t limited to the joints, though. RA can have an impact on other bodily systems, such as the cardiovascular or respiratory system, as well as a person’s mental well-being and ability to do everyday tasks.

To cope with the many symptoms and side effects RA can cause, some people may find themselves developing certain “habits” or engaging in routine behaviors that help them through the challenges they face. We asked our Mighty community to share some of the habits they’ve developed – good or bad – while living with rheumatoid arthritis. If any of the following sound familiar, know you’re not alone. Let us know what “habits” you would add in the comments below.

Here’s what our community shared with us:

1. “I schedule everything with an extra hour in front of it. Appointments, grocery shopping, going places… because sometimes I get cocky and play myself! Lol!” – Dana C.

2. “Downplaying how bad something actually hurts based on how I feel every day or assuming that something is going to go away soon when I know it won’t.” – Lauren O.

3. “Inadvertently popping my joints because they feel so tight and hurt so bad.” – Rebecca K.

4. “Resting on my days off.” – Ambra D.

5. “Clenching my teeth with the pain. I have a couple of chipped teeth now.” – Jen A.

6. “I’ve seriously deprived myself [of] letting go of who I used to be, and developed the bad habit of always being too hard on myself. I keep trying and trying to make myself believe I’m still the same functional person I used to love. I can’t let go, I can’t accept this feeling. I wake up everyday feeling like I’m in someone else’s body, living someone else’s life, not mine. Now I can’t even remember the feeling of who I used to be.” – Liz G.RESOURCES FROM CREAKYJOINTS

7. “Learning strong boundaries because I physically can’t do things.” – John H.

8. “I’ve learned to exercise in new and different ways. I have become a more curious and open human being by seeking out and learning low impact exercises.” – Heather Y.F.

9. “What I call ‘hands choreography.’ My friends [have gotten] used to it by now.” – Ye’ela B.

10. “[I’m] too scared to do mostly anything anymore because it swells my joints and causes way too much pain. I’ve developed extreme anxiety and try to work through the fear as best I can. Fear of not being able to even get out of bed because I decided to go to work that day…” – Katlyn S.

11. “Saying I’m fine when I’m not.” – Jill C.

12. “This may sound weird, but when a joint is flaring, I gently rub it without realizing I’m doing it. And when my hands and wrists flare and are giving off lots of heat, I hold them up to my cheeks to warm my face.” – Alyson A.K. 

13. “Taking naps when I can.” – Angie H.

14. “I take a picture of every joint when it’s flaring. The doctor never believes your level of pain nor the severity of each flare.” – Kristin W.

15. “I have had to be much more aware of my lifestyle choices like foods I eat and dealing with stress. I have made so many positive changes I decided to become a health coach so I can help others make positive changes too.” – Valeri T.

16. “Take the elevator no matter what!” – Katelyn W.

17. “I constantly say sorry for being sick. As if being sick is inside my control.” – Heather Y.F.

18. “Rocking my body for comfort while in pain. For some reason it soothes me. Side to side or front to back rocking. Doesn’t matter. Just rocking my upper body.” – Carol S.

19. “Live in the present, take things one day at a time. Don’t take things for granted.” – Jenny S.

What’s a “habit” you’ve developed from living with RA? Let us know in the comments below!

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