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During this journey of having rheumatoid arthritis (RA), I’ve learned there are things in life that just make everything so much easier. Things that I make sure I have on hand to assist me in my daily struggles. Here are 12 of them:

When I can’t stand the heat, I keep a frozen water bottle in the freezer. I use it quite a bit on my muscles or achy joints. You can find me rolling around on the floor with my frozen water bottle, trying to get the knots out of my neck and back. My dogs love it too.

Fluctuating fevers at night, and waking up soaked? Invest in a nice mattress with a built-in cooling system. When I first got diagnosed, I decided to get a really good mattress. It’s great for my back, but it also keeps me cool at night, along with a box fan on high aimed at my face.

I know they’re expensive, but I highly recommend Tempur-Pedic. Hey, I have a credit card for a reason, and it was a really good investment!

The biggest tube they make. Paired with a heating pad, Icy Hot will literally melt your pain away until you need to restart your heating pad because the heat just isn’t hot enough.

I’m technically not a stress eater. But from time to time, I like to indulge in something sweet. I’m absolutely addicted to these ice pops called Outshine. They’re just so good that I have to watch out not to eat the whole box in one sitting. They come in all sorts of different flavors, and they have vitamins in them too. So, healthy, right?

This has been the best stress reliever ever. I never thought exercising would be so therapeutic for the mind. If anything, I would tell you all to go out there and exercise in some way, shape, or form. Anything you can do is better than nothing.

I find myself laughing at the things I can’t do if I’m in the middle of a group exercise class. When you have RA, you need to have a sense of humor when it comes to working out. There are things we just can’t do, but don’t knock us for trying!

In the seven years I’ve lived with RA, I’ve gone through at least six phones just by dropping them (and throwing them from being frustrated because I dropped them). Invest in an OtterBox, or any type of protection, for the things you hold dear. You’re going to drop them. A lot. I got myself one for my phone, watch, and iPad. And I should really get something for my computer!

Get yourself a pet, a partner, a friend … anyone who’ll listen to you when you need to get it all out. I usually talk to my dog. He’s a good listener. Plus I bribe him with treats, so it’s a bit of give-and-take.

I also go to a really good counselor. I like the fact that I can say what I have to say without being judged for my feelings, or even my complaining. This life is hard, we’re in pain 24/7, and things don’t work the way they used to. That’s hard to accept. You need to find someone to listen to you when you’re having one of those days where things are just overwhelming.

If straightening your hair is somewhat of a priority, Sally Beauty has this mini hair straightener made by Ion. It’s half the size of a regular straightener and so much easier to handle. I got sick of wearing a hat or having bedhead. It’s always fun to try and make yourself look good, even if you’re not going anywhere.

While I have a hard time gripping things, I’ve found ways to keep cooking. Try using rubber-tipped utensils, which are easier to hold on to.

It’s also much easier to keep hold of cooking equipment when it’s on the bigger end of the spectrum. My spatula might look like King Kong uses it, but my pancakes still taste delicious.

A can opener that works on its own is a must. I like to make a lot of Mexican food — which means a lot of black beans. So I got a fancy can opener, and now I’ll never have to miss out on my favorite foods!

So you see, there are many things out there those of us with RA should invest in to lessen our daily struggles. Life can be easier if you just find the tools that work for you!

Gina Mara was diagnosed with RA in 2010. She enjoys hockey and is a contributor to CreakyJoints. Connect with her on Twitter @ginasabres.