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Decorating and Designing My Way Through Major Life Changes With RA

I have gone through a series of major life events since October of last year.

In October, I returned back to the workforce full-time after rheumatoid arthritis (RA) had left me in a period of total disability. It not only was a new job, but a completely different career. I have been learning a completely different field, trying to figure out what my new daily life looks like, and managing my rheumatoid arthritis at the same time.

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Changing careers and moving

At the time of my career change, I was living in a tiny apartment. It was not conducive to working remotely. I made it work, but I knew it was not something that would be beneficial for the long haul. Last December, with the help of friends, I moved to a different apartment.

Changing careers and moving within the span of a couple of months' time would be stressful for anyone. Then add in the always-present elephant in the room: my rheumatoid arthritis.

Not going to lie, the last few months have been challenging. However, I knew that I was in a season of spring in my life, in which everything I would experience was going to be new to me.

The delicate dance of life with RA

Living life with RA is always a delicate dance of taking care of yourself, resting, and carrying out your daily life tasks. I did the best I could, and I would be lying if I said it all went smoothy and that the transition has been seamless. Finding time to relax and restore has been essential throughout my changes.

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Decorating a new space has helped me process my transitions

Moving into my new apartment has been so very life-changing for myself and my emotional support animal, Hamlin. I really am having fun with planning out and decorating my new space.

I have been intentional in designing a space that is a functional one. Living with RA brings its own set of daily challenges. So, for me, it was important to focus on how my environment and décor can help me live my best life with RA.

Decorating my space has really helped me process through my recent major life transitions. Having lived with RA for 20 years now, I know what kind of role that level of stress can play in my RA flares. So, I focused on design and decorating as a way to have periods of time that would require me to research online and focus on resting my body. Having a design focus of functionality helped me to ensure that my environment would be set up for success in life with a chronic illness.

Design that celebrates change while focusing on my needs

Switching careers has been a significant positive change in my life. I wanted to take the time to celebrate this new season in my life by designing and decorating a space that provided the supports, adaptations, and function I require for life with RA.

A functional office space setup

I started out by finding vintage, floral, mid-century modern era curtains. The curtains were my inspiration piece for the room. After much research, I went with an affordable but stylish motor-powered, mid-century modern standing desk. I love that it gives me the option to sit and/or stand depending on my daily — or, quite honestly, hourly — needs. I also made sure the desk had monitor risers. This helps keep my neck in more of a neutral position as I work.

I went with a drafting desk chair that was not specifically marketed as an ergonomic chair, but it was well designed. I have arm rests and an adjustable foot rest on my chair. The foot rest helps keep my feet flat and my hips, knees, and ankles in perfect alignment.

My background is in occupational therapy, so I have had training on proper body alignment and ergonomics. I knew the importance of keeping my elbows, hips, and knees bent at a 90-degree angle and my feet flat.

The role of proper lighting

Lighting was important to me when I was designing my office space. I have had a lot of issues recently with eye changes — unfortunately, very common for those of us living with RA.

I found a reasonably-priced, multi-toned LED desk lamp. It is perfect because it is stylish and functional. It allows me to adjust the shades of the lamp light from cool to warm tones. The lamp also allows me to adjust the lamp head segments and level of light intensity of the different sections of the lamp. I can adjust this depending on the task I am working on. This helps increase my productivity and decrease my frustration level. This lamp has been a critical part of my functional office décor.

Looking forward to future functional décor endeavors

There is still much more that needs to be accomplished. However, like many in our community, I live on a very real and slim budget.

I live in the Northeast, and we are heading into garage sale season. I am hoping to score a functional bookshelf, a comfortable reading chair, and some other items to help me celebrate my new transition.

I would love to hear from our community about whether any of you have any functional design/decorating ideas for your space that you have found helpful. Share in the comments section below!

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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