My Daily RA Routine
My daily routine and my RA are at war with each other and have been for quite some time now. It wasn't until I graduated college that I realized that in order to have a meaningful, balanced life, my routine and my RA had to co-exist. I was diagnosed with RA in October 2018, and it is only now that I have finally planned out a daily routine that keeps my RA in check while simultaneously helping me feel better. So, follow along with me through a day in my life with RA.
A day in the life with RA: my mornings
Anyone with RA will tell you that the mornings are the most difficult. Between lack of sleep, morning joint stiffness, and general feelings of not wanting to get up out of bed, RA makes any morning cumbersome.
Getting up early
I wake up every morning at 7, roughly two hours before I have to be at work, to remedy this issue. By waking up earlier, I give myself enough time to get ready for the day. In addition to waking up earlier, I also plan my next day out with a purpose the night before. This means that I have my clothes laid out, my coffee pre-made, and my towels ready to go before going to bed so that in the morning, I don't have the additional hassle of these chores. This also gives me more time to prepare for work and for any unexpected joint pain that might surface during the night.
Getting in some physical activity
Part of getting ready includes a morning walk and run through my neighborhood for about 40 minutes. Consistent exercise, particularly in the morning, is one of the most impactful things that has helped alleviate my RA pain. Then, once I get back from running, I take a shower and then take my medications.
Eating a balanced breakfast
Finally, I try to make breakfast every morning for myself. Generally, this includes some Greek yogurt and granola, a scrambled egg, some fruit, or maybe some homemade oatmeal made the night before. The connection between the food that you eat and RA is a contentious topic, with some claiming that different diets work to alleviate RA pain, but my philosophy at this point is to eat as healthy as I can and avoid the usual problem foods: sweets, fried and fatty foods, and others. Eating is generally the last thing in my morning routine, so then it's off to work.
Managing the work day
After getting ready in the morning, I head over to the office where I work. I work normal hours - generally - but, being diagnosed with RA definitely made the 9-5 more difficult. The difficulty comes from two places: from being fatigued and from the ergonomics of working in an office. I covered a lack of sleep and fatigue in a previous article, but now that I have been working in an office for a while, I've started to realize how my RA responds to office life. Part of my routine involves frequent standing and stretching breaks (I work in front of a computer for most of the day) and making sure to take breaks for my hands after typing for lengths of time.
Lunchtime rolls around and, as mentioned in the morning section of this article, I try to eat as healthy as I can (although this is difficult working on a university campus where restaurants abound...). Nevertheless, I try and plan my lunches either the night before or in the morning both to save time and money.
After lunch, it's back to work. Usually around this time, I start to have my afternoon caffeine crash where I need to procure some coffee.
Winding down with my nightly routine
When I walk into my house, I try not to think about work. At all. This is easier said (typed) than done, but this philosophy comes from being mindful about the reduced amount of energy I have to expend each day because of RA. I only have 24 hours a day, and having RA can reduce those hours if you're not careful with how you spend your energy, so to avoid superfluous thinking or working, I focus on resting after the day.
This generally includes: going for another walk, making myself dinner, doing any miscellaneous (and small) household chores, taking a shower, taking my medications, and then reading or writing for the rest of the night. This is a time to relax and reflect on the day, which allows me to make sense of myself and to take the time to understand how I am dealing with my RA. Usually, I have a cup of tea to help further relax me so that I can attempt to have a restful night's sleep.
I think it is important for us as an RA community to learn from each other, even on the most basic and rudimentary elements of life (such as a routine). Sometimes you can learn different tricks and tips from listening to someone else's lived experience. So, I hope you enjoyed reading about my routine; let me know what your RA routine is like in the comments below!
On a scale of 1(low) to 5(high), how difficult is it for you to talk about having RA?