Nicole Campbell shares some tips that have helped her take control of her RA.
“I never thought I was the meditating type, but it’s really helped. I use an app called Headspace, which calms me and helps me be more mindful,” she says. “So I am aware of the [RA-related] sensations I’m having, without focusing on my pain.” Nicole started meditating for 10 minutes a day and now manages 30-minute sessions first thing in the morning.
Report all your symptoms
Nicole mentioned her “really dry eyes” to her rheumatologist. “She immediately referred me to a specialist,” says Nicole, who is now waiting to find out if she has Sjögren’s syndrome, an autoimmune disorder that can affect individuals with RA. “If you’re not honest about everything you’re experiencing, you’re not getting the full benefit of seeing your doctor.”
Be active when you can
“Exercise helps me mentally, and I know in the end it’ll make me feel better. But if something is hurting, I know not to exacerbate the pain.” Nicole enjoys swimming — “I go at my own pace” — and does a hot yoga class when she’s able. “I only do as many poses as I can.”
Tell your friends how RA affects you
When she’s invited out, Nicole tells friends: “‘I’d love to come, but you know that [with RA] every day is completely different for me, so can we play it by ear?’ By managing expectations, I don’t feel guilty if I have to cancel last minute.”
Allow loved ones to help
“I have an agreement with my husband, Brett,” says Nicole. “He can intervene to make sure I’m doing the right thing. For instance, if he sees my fatigue levels are high, he might say, ‘Maybe you shouldn’t go to yoga today.’”