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Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an inflammatory joint condition that causes painful, swollen joints. What’s more: One day you're feeling great, and then the next your joints are tender, achy, and swollen, and you barely have the energy to get out of bed.

Fortunately, there are steps you can take to help power through the bad days. Start with these nine coping skills from real people managing RA to help you get through even the worst days.

1. Say "ohm." Meredith Hutter Chamorro, 47, practices what she preaches. A yoga instructor based in the Poconos in Pennsylvania, Chamorro was diagnosed with RA three years ago. “Yoga, movement, self-massage with therapy balls, and meditation are what I turn to, especially when times are tough," she says. “I also think it’s also incredibly important to have something in your life — whether it’s a job or a hobby — that you love, and goals to work toward." For Chamorro, that's yoga.

Yoga is a mind-body practice that can help people with RA become more active and improve physical and mental health and quality of life, according to a study published in April 2015 in The Journal of Rheumatology. “Look for classes that have a focus on strengthening as well as mobility and relaxation, since stress is a big trigger for RA," Chamorro says. "Find an instructor that’s comfortable recommending modifications if needed, who has experience working with other students with RA. If possible, schedule a couple of private sessions before joining a group class,” she recommends.

If yoga isn’t your thing, take a cue from Angharad Chester-Jones, 37, who was diagnosed with RA at age 12. The Charleston, South Carolina-based publicist does breathing exercises in a steam room to help her manage.

2. Get moving. “Get up and walk every half an hour, especially if you have a desk job,” Chester-Jones suggests. People who exercise regularly have less pain and more energy and sleep better, according to the American College of Rheumatology. Try a moderate intensity, weight-bearing activity such as walking.

3. Say “thank you.” Gratitude can make a difference. “Don't just be thankful when times are good,” Chamorro says. “Make gratitude a regular part of your day, so when a bad day with RA hits, you’re already in a grateful mindset and looking for the best in any situation.”

4. Use assistive devices. “I spent years not asking for help or using tools that could make my life a little easier and help me cope with the pain of RA," Chester-Jones says. But, that's in the past. She now uses practical tools including a desk chair with support, an ergonomic keyboard, and electric can and wine openers.

Lifestyle hacks can help, too. “I often buy dresses either with big buttons or zippers so I’m not struggling to go these things with swollen hands," she says. "I use hot rollers so my hands are not squeezing a curling iron." She's also found that socks that allow her feet to breathe while also keeping them warm help reduce foot swelling.

5. Mix things up. Regina Yocum, 36, a certified child life specialist based in Madison, Wisconsin, has been living with RA for most of her life, having been diagnosed soon after her first birthday. As a result, she's learned a lot about getting through bad days.

Her recommendations for managing an RA flare include hot and cold packs, hot showers, compression, distraction, and deep breathing. “Sometimes I will watch a movie, talk to friends, or listen to country music to distract myself.”

These are all solid RA strategies, says Eric L Matteson, MD, chair of rheumatology and professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. “Many RA flares are short in duration, and managing them can be as simple as using a cold or hot pack to the tender joints, which also helps to relax the muscles,” he says. “Using a warm compress two or three times a day and taking a warm bath or shower can help, too. “

6. Seek support. “I lean on friends with RA who I’ve met in support groups over the years,” Yocum says. "The support can be friends or family, a local or online support group, or a professional,” Chamorro says.

7. Don't be afraid to make changes. For years, Yocum worked in an emergency room, often doing 12- to 14-hour shifts, but she recently reduced her hours to teach college. She’s found that the flexibility of the teaching lifestyle suits her better. “I can choose where I do my lesson plan, grade papers, and work on grant proposals,” she says. Sometimes this is at home with ice packs on her inflamed joints.

8. Prepare for doctor visits. “I always come prepared to doctor appointments so I can say, ‘I think this is what’s happening because of A, B, and C,' ” Yocum says. She keeps notes in her smartphone to share at each visit. This information provides more than just a snapshot and can help doctors make important adjustments to your RA treatment plan, Dr. Matteson says.

9. Keep it real. “Some people with RA are so used to downplaying things that even when we think we’re communicating how severe a symptom or medication side effect may be, we’re not,” Yocum says. Spell it out clearly for your doctor to make sure you’re being heard.