Skip to Accessibility Tools Skip to Content Skip to Footer
RA Hacks for Looking Good & Feeling Good!

RA Hacks for Looking Good & Feeling Good!

I had a sports coach that used to say “looking good, feeling good” before every game we played. That was our cue to make sure our uniforms and appearances were in tip top shape, which would be the precursor to how we stepped onto the playing field. This saying has stuck with me all the way into adulthood because it still applies! Little did I know that it would mean so much to me, while living with RA. It really does cross my mind on those mornings that I wake up stiff, sore and exhausted. I have never been (nor will I ever be) a morning person, but the one thing I do prioritize is my morning routine.   After all, the morning time often makes or breaks a day. Am I right?! Who’s with me?!

Living with RA means that we have plenty to consider while getting ready. Self care is an utmost important part of our day, yet also poses physical challenges that often overshadow the power of taking care of ourselves. In honor of Arthritis Awareness Month, I’d like to present you with a variety of “life hacks” to make your mornings more manageable.

Pamper yourself. A warm shower can provide you with a chance to take some deep breaths, stretch your muscles, and invigorate your senses using some aromatic body washes. If standing in the shower is difficult, consider using a shower seat or taking a bath.

Hold on.  Keep your hands in mind when buying brushes, toothbrushes, blow dryers, and beauty products. Look for large handles, padded handles, and easy to open tops on products such as toothpaste and shampoo.

Downsize.  If you buy beauty products in large volumes, consider buying (or saving) smaller product containers to then pour a small quantity into for everyday use. This will prevent you from having to lift, handle, and pour large bottles when you’re simply trying to complete your morning routine. Also, store your product bottles away from the water and keep the tops open to cut down on finger stress during showering.

Smile pretty.  Use a large handle, easy to hold toothbrush, or even switch to an electric toothbrush that will take care of a lot of the scrubbing for your teeth. To obtain toothpaste, place the toothpaste container on the counter (with the opening toward the sink) and press down on it using your whole hand or wrist to squeeze the toothpaste onto the toothbrush.   When you are finished, smile pretty at yourself. You will either laugh at yourself that you took my advice or realize you look great to start the day.

Hair care and flair.  Obviously everyone has their own style, flair, and hair! Trying to put a simple ponytail in your hair when your hands hurt, provides you with a moment (to swear a lot and…) realize just how hard it is to have hands that don’t work sometimes! Opt for larger ponytail holders, barrettes, headbands, and bobby pins for accessories. In addition, perhaps opt for a low maintenance hair style.

Don’t agonize, accessorize!  Most earrings come with the tiniest backings they can fit. However, why not buy a small package of extra, more manageable backings (the round ones with clear plastic) to replace the harder to handle (small gold or silver) ones. When picking out accessories, find ones with easier to fasten clasps or long necklaces that you can wrap on your neck two or three times. If necklaces are extra difficult for you, think about accessorizing with fancy neck wraps (no clasps to complicate your mornings).

Making scents.  If you like perfume and have a hard time pressing the squirt bottle, use a cotton swab to dip and wipe a small amount of perfume on yourself. Scented lotions are easily manageable and can add just the right scent to your day as well.

Dress for success.  Plan your wardrobe ahead of time. If you’re in an exacerbation, think about easier to manage clothing. Also, open the buttons and fasteners at night when your hands are in working order, rather than waiting for the morning to do so. This way you conserve your hands for the difficult task of completing them in the morning. Applying socks and tights can be tedious – remember to let your skin dry so you’re not trying to apply socks or stockings while your feet/legs are sticky from lotion. Think about using leggings instead of stockings (if possible) or high socks (instead of crew socks) that you can hold the top of while placing your foot in.

Dressing aides are simple tools aimed to help you manage dressing yourself. For example, a sock aid helps you place your socks on without bending over. A button hook/zipper pull hook is a great invention that will help you close buttons and pull zippers easily. In my opinion, a shoe horn is a valuable tool as well. Elastic shoelaces look exactly like traditional ones but will allow you to adjust/tie your shoes while holding them and then place them on your feet, with the help of a shoe horn of course!

As previously mentioned, the morning routine can make or break your day. Try to get as much of your preparation done in the evenings when your body is warmed up and moving well. Some simple planning can really help you manage your mornings better and set your day in motion on a positive note. If you prepare to help yourself “look good” then you’ll have a better chance of “feeling good!” I am not condoning outward appearance is everything, but if you’re not “feeling good,” (physically or emotionally) the best place to start in trying to make yourself feel better is taking care of yourself!

The motto of the American Occupational Therapy Association is “Skills for the job of living!” and as an occupational therapist my goal is to help teach you ways to make life with RA a little easier.

 *Disclaimer: The links in this blog are for reference only and are not being endorsed by Health Union, LLC or Asha LeRay, MS, OTR/L.

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.


  • Kathy P.
    4 years ago

    I make jewelry as a living. If you have a problem with putting on your jewelry, talk to a professional that makes jewelry, as in actually making the jewelry and not putting components together.

    For necklaces, a simple hand forged hook and loop might be the ticket, or you might want to consider magnetic clasps. But get the clasps from a jeweler or a fabricator, because what is sold to the consumer in stores are not very good.

    Rings can have “sizing balls” soldered on, which allows for the ring to be a little oversized to get over a knuckle, but the balls keep it in place at the base of the finger and keeps the ring from twisting. There are arthritic shanks that have a locking lever system that allows you to open the shank to put the ring on. These are pretty expensive. You can have a “spring” soldered to the inside of the band which allows the ring to grip the base of the finger, but will allow you to get it over a misshapen knuckle. The spring and the balls are relatively inexpensive compared to the arthritic shank.

    For earrings, yes you can change them to hooks, and again, a professional will be able to help you choose the best type for your earrings. The rubber and silicone nuts are good for posts, but depending on the earring’s size, you might also want to opt for a “monster nut,” which is much larger than a regular nut. A jewelry or maker will be able to show you how to tighten or loosen the nut “wings” (aka “ears”)to be comfortable, secure and easy to get on and off. There are also earring converters that change posts and dangles to clip style earrings.

    For brooches, go to a jeweler or maker. Handmade pin backs can make all the difference. Instead of fiddling with trying to close the mechanism, a maker will be able to make you a pin that will be easy to manipulate.

    There are so many workarounds for jewelry. You just have to explain to the maker your particular issue so they can custom make something for you that will work.

  • Kathy P.
    4 years ago

    Elise, there are some tablet covers out there that have a wide elastic strap on the back. I just stick my hand through that to hold on to it. I have problems with my hands and trying to hold a tablet or book just doesn’t work. With the elastic band, the tablet is supported by my whole hand, and doesn’t make my wrist hurt either. Try Amazon.

  • elisee55
    5 years ago

    Does anyone have suggestions for holding phones and tablets while laying down? I can’t grip mine for very long.

  • Ronda Parks
    5 years ago

    I have given up backs on post earrings and have switched to French hooks. The are so much easier to use!

  • Poll