6. Go barefoot.

Kick off your shoes when you come home. “Most shoes increase forces on the knees more than going barefoot will,” says D. Casey Kerrigan, MD, professor and chair of physical medicine and rehabilitation at the University of Virginia. One caveat: Barefoot means barefoot. Avoid going in stocking feet, which may cause you to slip on slick floors.

7. Change your label.

“When people see the world through their arthritis, they tend to refer to themselves as arthritic,” says Phillips. “Instead, practice calling yourself a person who happens to have arthritis. Don’t let the condition define who you are.”

8. Be creative with exercise.

Don’t forgo exercise because it’s cold outside, your bike has a flat or the gym is closed. Take a fresh look at what constitutes exercise. Play fetch with the dog, pop in a fitness DVD, organize the kitchen cabinets or try the Wii Fit video game. These can be just as good for you as a walk around the block.

9. Snack every three hours.

If you haven’t eaten for three hours or more, your blood sugar drops. You need to snack – which is particularly important if arthritis is already sapping your energy. Steer clear of the empty calories of candy bars that that won’t fill you up. “Think high-fiber carbohydrates and lean protein like a whole grain cracker and peanut butter, or yogurt with walnuts,” says Brandeis. Replace sweet and salty snack foods with handfuls of healthier choices like fruits and nuts.

10. Take supplements.

Whole foods are the best ways to get vitamins and minerals, but for a bit of insurance, add a daily multivitamin and supplements to your diet, with your doctor’s approval, suggests Khaled J. Saleh, MD, associate professor of orthopaedic surgery at the University of Virginia Health System in Charlottesville, VA. Vitamins and minerals are essential to overall health and body function.

5 Habits to Drop

1. Eating over-processed foods.

Sugar and white flour – and the overabundance of them in processed foods – can lead to weight gain, which is hard on sore joints. Replace them with fruits, nuts and whole grains. A good rule of thumb, says Brandeis, is to indulge in foods with less than 10 grams of sugar and more than 3 grams of fiber per serving. You’ll feel full on less and prevent weight gain.

2. Dwelling on pain.

When you’re in pain, it’s easy to believe that the pain is permanent, that you can’t do anything and your life is forever changed. “Over time you develop expectations about how every situation will play out, and then you respond to those expectations rather than the real situation,” says David Castro-Blanco, PhD, assistant professor of psychology at Long Island University, Brooklyn, NY. “Break the pattern. Ask yourself, ‘Am I always in this much pain or just today? Can I walk on some days even if I can’t on others?’” Castro-Blanco suggests you keep track by writing down how you felt in a given situation and assigning a pain level number. This will help you see that some days are in fact better than others.

3. Wearing uncomfortable shoes.

Those stylish, toe-cramping slings may look fabulous with your outfit, but your joints will thank you once you make a switch. “Bad shoes are an under-appreciated contributor to joint pain,” says Dr. Kerrigan. Dr. Kerrigan’s recommendation: Keep heels to 1.5 inches or less. More height increases the torque, or twisting force, in the knee. Avoid shoes with excessive cushioning and arch support, which reduces the foot’s natural shock-absorbing contractions as it hits the ground.

4. Pushing yourself.

“One of the biggest problems people with arthritis have is that when they feel like doing something, they tend to do too much,” says Phillips. “But that wears a person down, causing more pain and fatigue.” Instead, pace yourself. If you know your day will be full of strenuous activities like errands, include several rest periods of 15 to 20 minutes or longer. Lie down, nap, watch TV or read.” The number of rest periods depends on how you feel. Pay close attention to physical cues such as increasing pain or flagging energy.

5. Going it alone.

Instead of muscling through arthritis pain on your own – or feeling angry that others don’t understand your condition – enlist their sympathy and support, says Phillips. “Family members and friends often don’t understand what you’re going through. Pain and fatigue aren’t visible. Encourage them to read about arthritis or ask them to go with you to a support group.”