RA: Back to School and Work

Patient Expert
View as:|
1 of 10

The signs are everywhere: Summer is drawing to a close. Shorter days and cooler evenings. There's a scent of autumn in the air. Last week, I even saw Christmas decorations in a store! (It's no wonder that people have trouble staying present!) Hopefully, rheumatoid arthritis (RA), has given you a care-free summer, and you're ready to make preparations for back to school/work.

Thoughts and feelings matter

How you think and feel can make a huge difference in yes, how you think and feel. The good news is that you can practice by implementing a number of techniques that help you balance your nervous system so that you turn off the taps to stress hormones that affect how you feel emotionally, mentally, and physically. These have a huge role in how you function at school or work.

Planning helps

While you can't expect to know when you're going to flare, you can be prepared. Check out the HealthCentral RA site to build your arsenal with strategies, techniques and tools to help you live as well as possible with RA.


Many healthcare professionals are now back from vacation, so it's good time to make calls and schedule the appointments you need, all at a time that is convenient for you. If you live in a large city, you may wish to book appointment times in between the morning and afternoon rush hours. If you're relying on a ride, check with your driver to see what time is favorable for them.


Perhaps you tend to over-schedule your time. This may leave you feeling exhausted, resentful, or frustrated. When you soak in negative emotions, it can trigger the stress response, which can trigger a flare.

While it often feels good that “everyone wants you,” remember that those feelings may be short-lived. If you're burnt out, you won't have the energy to do the things that really matter.


If you're going back to school, visit the disability office on campus to discuss your needs. It can help you accomplish your goals. If your child has RA, it's important to let the teacher know so accommodations can be made.

At work, you may need special tools or furniture. Here is a Beginner's Guide to Workin' for a Living, as well as some Tips for Getting Through Your Workday When You Have RA.


If you work outside of the home, or have children, it may be hard to build rest into your day. If you're at work, spend at least one coffee break, focusing on your breath -- gentle, deep, easy breaths. Work up gradually from one minute. Bring your wandering thoughts back to your healing breaths. Notice how you feel. Schedule time to practice this lifelong skill with your children, too!


If you're feeling stagnant, maybe it's time to look into a course at university or community college. If cost is an issue, many post-secondary institutions will allow you to audit a course, without the stress of papers and examinations.

Enhance your physical literacy with a new activity. Here are some Body Awareness Skills to investigate. Check with your healthcare team first.

Fun, fun, fun!

When was the last time you laughed so hard that you cried? How about a simple smile or a giggle? It's time to get serious about scheduling some fun into your life. Fun can be as individual as you are. Ask yourself what puts a smile on your face and make sure you go and do it!

Accept, adapt, and adopt

Adapt and adopt tools and techniques from others. You don't have to do it alone. For an A+ in RA-101, the sooner and more often you can accept and adapt to your condition, the better it is for you.