Living with chronic pain can be challenging, whether you’ve been doing it your entire life or it’s a recent development. Everyone has their own journey with chronic pain, as there are so many different causes, conditions, and symptoms that manifest uniquely from person to person.
Not only that, but people come from all different backgrounds and life experiences, which means everyone has different levels of support available to them at any given time.
With all of this said, it stands to reason that each person’s chronic pain journey will require different tools and coping mechanisms. What works for some may not work for others, and you may find yourself falling in love with some tips and realizing others aren’t great for you.
Whatever you decide, it’s all about learning what works best for you and building your strategies accordingly. Here are a few tips you can check out when it comes to living with chronic pain.
1. Count Your Spoons
The spoon theory is popular among people with chronic illnesses. It’s based on a personal story by Christine Miserandino, in which she compared units of energy to a tangible, physical item that can be counted — such as spoons. It’s a way to gauge how you feel and communicate with others about it.
Making this theory work for you is about measuring how you expend energy and understanding your body’s limits.
2. Build Your Support System
Whether you’re living with chronic pain, a chronic illness, mental health struggles, or anything else you can think of, a support system is one of the most important things to build in your life.
Support systems stand by you and help you when you need someone. Whether that’s your friends, your family, or other loved ones, support is highly beneficial.
3. Keep A Diary
Some people don’t like the idea of keeping a pain diary or a diary logging their chronic symptoms, but others can find it helpful when trying to pinpoint flare-ups and causes that might otherwise go unnoticed. Try it out and see how it works for you.
4. Pay Attention To Your Mental Health
Even though chronic pain is an affliction of the body, the struggles can impact your mental health, too. Even though the body and the mind are independent, they’re also closely connected.
Chronic illnesses can often cause anxiety and depression, in addition to other mental health struggles, so it’s essential to keep close tabs on your mental wellness.
5. Don’t Be Too Hard On Yourself
It can be easy to beat yourself up for little things, especially if your baseline is a life without chronic pain and you’re still adjusting. Remember: don’t be too hard on yourself. You deserve a break.
6. Try Mindfulness
Mindfulness is all about developing mental awareness and focusing on whatever you’re looking to focus on. Whether that’s a meditation exercise or even a specific mantra you’ve chosen for yourself, mindfulness can help you manage your pain or even provide a coping mechanism.
7. Try Yoga
If your chronic pain isn’t debilitating, many people find that yoga, light stretching, and gentle movement helps alleviate pain and soreness throughout the body. Although yoga isn’t for everyone, it might be worth a try if you’ve known movement to be beneficial for you in the past.
8. Breathing Exercises
If yoga or movement-based therapy is too difficult for you at the moment, deep breathing exercises and techniques can be a great middle-ground between bodily movement and sedentary mindfulness.
There are so many exercises you can try out, and finding one that works for you can even be part of the fun.
9. Use Healthy Distractions
One thing that often helps those with chronic pain is a dose of healthy distraction. Everyone has their own form of escapism they love, and it can vary from person to person. Some people love video games while others love reading books, listening to music, watching movies, or listening to podcasts.
Taking your mind off of things can be powerful, even if you don’t realize it.
10. Connect With Others Who Understand You
While some people with chronic illnesses and chronic pain would rather not talk about their experiences, some people find a lot of liberation in connecting with those who understand the experience firsthand.
While some people would rather not go to a support group or a large social venue, making friends online or connecting with another person from your social circle can be a great first step to feeling a sense of community.
Living With Chronic Pain
Each person’s experience with chronic pain is different. Therefore, each person’s response to their journey through chronic pain will require different responses.
Whether you find yourself keeping a diary, turning to your support system, doing yoga, or finding a healthy distraction every once in a while, chronic pain will always have its ups and downs. However, using the best coping strategies for you is one of the best ways to get through it.