Creating a Soothing Home Environment When You Have Rheumatoid Arthritis

Patient Expert
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When you live with a chronic illness, such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA), your attention is often focused on your internal environment; what hurts, what is swollen, how you can’t move, or how exhausted, depressed, fatigued, frustrated, or sad you feel. With a sprinkling of creativity, some planning, organization, and a bit of energy and money, you can remake your external environment into a place of restoration that helps pull you out of those negative feelings and enter a place of restoration.

Color your environment ‘soothing’

Make your home as comfortable as possible, especially since you may spend a lot of time there. While you can engage the services of an expert to create a soothing palette for you, it's not always an option. If you're not sure what color scheme to use, notice the subtle shifts in how you feel when you are out visiting. Does a seaside color scheme tease your worries away from you? Maybe the colors of a boreal forest help you keep your cool. Or are the hues of a desert more to your liking?

Room colors and mood

The experts suggest certain color schemes if you want to be calmer, attract wealth, or spice up your life. The practice of Feng Shui weighs in on this discussion, with color suggestions to attract a certain type of energy. Even Deepak Chopra has put his paintbrush to an exclusive Miami condominium project that is designed to promote calm. Bear in mind that cultural differences, experiences, personal preferences, and upbringing influence one's choice of colors.

Contemplative practice

You may have adopted a contemplative practice that helps you get through your days. Although not necessary, you might like to create a sacred space that honors this practice. It could be a favorite chair, a quiet spot in the house, a backyard refuge, or a portable basket that contains your contemplation tools. Dependent upon the type of contemplative practice you do, you might include some of the following: a few well-placed candles, a journal, a pen, some books, and other symbolic items.


Take a look around you. Do you get comfort from what you see, or is it becoming all too much? Are you hemmed in by too many items cluttering up your space? Does it become more work to keep everything clean and in its place? One person's clutter might be another person's comfort — within reason. Get organized and make it a habit to put everything in its place. Because the footprint of a house doesn't expand, I like to follow this rule of thumb: when one thing comes in, one thing goes out.


“My house is clean enough to be healthy, but dirty enough to be happy.” Everyone has different standards of cleanliness. Chronic illness can make housekeeping an onerous chore. Become organized and reduce your clutter to facilitate housekeeping. In the book Sink Reflections>, Marla Cilley, aka The FlyLady, suggests adopting the “BabySteps” routine that helps you and your family manage your household chores while side-stepping the “all-or-nothing attitude” or the “perfection infection.”

Let there be light!

The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism reported that: “...chronically exposing oneself to electrical lighting in the late evening disrupts melatonin signaling and could therefore potentially impact sleep, thermoregulation, blood pressure, and glucose homeostasis.” The amount and type of light in your home is important for your well-being, so take time to conduct your own experiments. Throw open the curtains to the morning light. Experiment with different types of light bulbs.

Technology no-go-zone

I'm a big believer in making the bedroom an electronics no-go-zone. Chronic illness is a great sleep disrupter, so do everything you can to ensure that you drift off like Wynken, Blynken, and Nod. The light, plus the stimulation of electronic devices in the bedroom, can rob you of the much-needed restorative benefits of sleep. The website Sleep Review says: “Intense back-lighting of electronics triggers stimulating chemicals in the brain that tell your body it’s time to be awake.”

Colorful kitchens

In the 10-Day Detox Diet book, Mark Hyman, M.D., recommends making your kitchen an inviting place by incorporating some simple décor changes. He encourages you to “Make the kitchen a place you and your family want to gather.” Here's a wise suggestion from the slideshow The Benefits of Colorful Produce: “Make your grocery basket and your plate as colorful as you can. The darker and richer the colors, the better.” Fill your kitchen with the fruit and vegetable rainbow.

A pleasing palette

As painter Edouard Manet said, “Color is a matter of taste and of sensitivity.” Sculpt an environment that speaks to your tastes and awakens your joy. Make your surroundings a place of healing, love, refuge, and restoration, and enjoy subtle changes in your internal environment.