If you live with chronic pain or know someone close who does, you’ve probably heard the saying, “chronic pain causes more chronic pain.” This statement has never been more true than during the COVID lockdown!
Important social supports and ‘circles of care’ have been disrupted and many of us are struggling to find ways to cope. For some, this loss of support has actually led to increased pain.
When you’re stuck at home it’s hard not to focus on pain. It can seem like the pain is in control. In reality, there are steps you can take that can bring a sense of hope back.
Here are three tips for helping you manage pain while at home this month:
Pain can be unpredictable from one day to the next, so keeping as close to a routine as possible can actually help us feel more in control of our days. It can be as simple as having a cup of coffee or tea at the same time every morning to establish a rhythm for the day. The same goes for taking proper rest throughout the day. By taking rest breaks at set times, it provides a sense of structure that can help you feel in charge even if your pain is getting in the way.
Taking proper breaks is essential for chronic pain management and getting into a good routine about it can help improve your mood.
Try keeping a routine with drinking water, too! Set alarms on your device to remind yourself to have another glass throughout the day. It’s simple but effective!
We’ve all felt overwhelmed by a huge goal that feels too hard to get to! The solution is to break your big goals down into smaller ones. Think of a larger pain management goal, like trying to do yoga or stretching twice a week. It seems daunting but if you break it down into small steps, it’s not so difficult. This can look like rolling out the yoga mat one day, the next day could be about finding the right instruction video online, followed by a third day that has a goal of being on the mat for 10 minutes. Baby steps! You’ll feel more accomplished when you’re able to reach a goal every day.
Try taking a larger goal you have, like eating more healthy snacks. Now sit and brainstorm some snacks you like and then plan out a schedule that starts with one a day. Writing the smaller goal down can be so helpful here. It will feel easier and more realistic to achieve the end goal.
Join an online group to help feel connected to others. If your pain management group can’t meet in-person during quarantine or if you’ve never been part of a group, you might find yourself feeling lost. It’s helpful anytime to have a place to ‘just be’ with others who also live with pain, but this is especially true during lockdown.
If you’re missing your support group or feel like joining one might help, this could be the single most important step in helping you feel connected to others and not so alone with your pain. If you’re hesitant to join an online group, you can try listening in without video and see how it goes. Contact the Shift office for details on our group that meets monthly. Try it out and see if it helps. Even if it’s just for a day, that’s OK!
What you find helpful is unique to you. You may find a combination of these steps helps or maybe just one. The important thing is that all of these steps lead to a sense of hope and can help you feel more connected to yourself. When you live with pain, there are times it seems to dictate who you are and what you’re capable of. It does not! Small steps and little wins can make all the difference.