3 Tips to “Make it Work” with Chronic Pain

By Krystina

Living with chronic pain is like being a video gamer who has damaged hands. You love to play the game, and get to the next level, but you can’t play for long before your hands hurt, so you have to put the pad down. It doesn’t mean you don’t want to play, which is what it might seem like to others, and it doesn’t mean you don’t want to level up, in fact the frustration of that can feel like it’s killing you.

What it does mean is you need to be a little cleverer about your approach, and start to think about work-arounds that are manageable for you. Maybe you only play in little increments, maybe something else will keep you occupied that doesn’t involve your hands. Perhaps you come to realise that the parts you enjoyed about gaming were in the story telling, and so you start to read a little more. Perhaps over time you learn to savour the moments where you do get to pick up the pad and play again.

Living with chronic illness is all about learning to accept your situation, and changing your approach to life. It may seem like a fully loaded sentence, and it is, but the only way we can move forward in any situation, is to adapt to change. We’ve done that as a species since the beginning, so we know that we’re capable of it.

I’ve spent a long time learning to accept that I simply can’t do the things I used to, it’s not a finite process, it’s a constantly changing thing that needs to be worked on.

With that being said, I came up with three things to try when trying to work with your chronic pain.

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1. Stop Apologizing for Things Your Illness May affect.

Apologizing only gives your illness power. The only way you can regain control over your pain is by not apologizing for the facts.

Whether it be a gathering you can’t make, or a cancelled dinner date, apologizing profusely for not being able to make it can end up making the person on the receiving end uncomfortable! They want to help, but don’t know how — how would you feel the other way around? Who are you apologizing for? Apologizing so much breeds guilt, which leaves you in anxious despair.

Apologize once, and make that apology for them, not for you; you are so sorry you won’t be there to share the fun, but you have to take care of yourself to fight another day. Better yet…

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2. Pace Yourself.

It’s much easier said than done. Symptoms fluctuate and it can be easy to get carried away when you’re having a good day, but a lot can be said for keeping track.

A diary can be a life-saver when it comes to chronic illness. Not only can you keep your appointments and medication in check, but you can look ahead and see that one event may fall a day or two before that meal that your friend just invited you to, so you know you might struggle, or that deadline is due the same week as another, so you know you will need extra days in the weeks coming up to it.

Take care of yourself during your time of need, because your time is precious. That way when small surprises come up, they won’t kick your butt so hard, because it’s so important to…

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Enjoy The Little Things. 

This is the little nugget of joy that carries you through to the end of the day, and gives you a reason to get up in the morning.

Whether it be as small as tending to an indoor plant, or dipping into your favorite book, finally having the energy to bake that recipe, or the sense of accomplishment when you plan a tiring month and get to go out for that meal you never thought you would.

Learning to take joy in the little things that make up a well person’s day is so important in giving yourself a little self-love, and building acceptance of your situation.

That last one is important because little things amount to the bigger picture, and if you can take time to stop apologizing, know your limits, and pace yourself you can start to enjoy the little things — the twinkling lights in the dark.

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