Living with chronic pain presents challenges, and there are days when some tasks feel beyond reason. Yet, there is much that can be done to support your efforts to maintain a fulfilling lifestyle. Here are some tips to get you on the right track.
Don't Compare Yourself
It's easy to focus on what you cannot do anymore or ask why others with chronic pain are still able to do certain things. Yet, this is not a tenable outlook. Its effects can be demoralizing and can negatively impact mental health. Reconcile with your limitations. Yes, certain things are no longer practical, but there may be plenty of things that are. Focus on what is feasible and put what you're achieving within a more forgiving context. Washed your hair? Read a few lines in a book? These are not trivial in the face of chronic pain. If possible, avoid comparing yourself to others. It does no good if those comparisons serve as a means to self-criticism. Don't feel guilty if you cannot do something but someone else can. Everyone's experience with chronic pain is unique, and what works for some may not for others.
Finding energy can sometimes feel like a herculean undertaking. Having the energy for “you” time can seem excessive. While this is resonant for many, you do not have to let go of passions that have brought joy. They can, instead, be adapted to your current position. Can you no longer play an instrument or attend concerts? Listen to playlists or watch recordings of musicals online. With that same mindset, think about how your “me” time can also focus on health without guilt. Sometimes, you may find that the day's only option is resting in bed. Don't push yourself. Instead, use these moments to recharge and, if possible, create a list that you can follow. It might be catching up with emails or relaxing by binge-watching some favorites.
Build Your Support System
The network around you can provide meaningful support, especially when feeling poorly or isolated. Make it a habit to be honest with loved ones and medical professionals. Let them listen to your thoughts and feelings. If you are worried about overwhelming others, then look for support further afield. Find communities to share your experiences, to vent, and be listened to without apprehension about opening up. These communities often belong to larger organizations that can feature valuable resources. Don't hesitate to ask for help, too. That may come from loved ones, or it may be from medical professionals. If you feel that the professional support you are receiving is inadequate, then make it known. Sometimes, it takes a complaint or two to ensure you get the treatment you deserve.
Modifying Your Home
An accessible home is a place where quality of life is not eroded. Most houses are not conceived with chronic pain in mind. This can cause many tasks to become onerous. That can be changed with housing modifications. You might replace flooring or substitute handles with pull-outs. Additional shelving may make certain tasks more feasible. Widening doors and hallways could prove beneficial, and a walk-in shower or bathroom can prove a boon.
Some of these home modifications might be done by loved ones, but you may want to bring in contractors. When hiring professionals, it's important to do your research. Cross-reference companies with your local Better Business Bureau and Chamber of Commerce, as these organizations may have records. Ensure that the company is fully licensed and has all the necessary documentation. As well, check out reviews, both positive and negative, to get a good gauge on their quality of work. Lastly, make sure there are no extra costs and that a mutually satisfactory agreement is made before there is any exchange of money.
There's no getting around chronic pain's impact. Activities you enjoyed may no longer be feasible, but your passions do not have to end with chronic pain. Avoid comparisons with others, surround yourself with support, and live the best life you can.
By: Jackie Waters