1. Prepare some YouTube or Spotify playlists for those inevitable times when you need a distraction from the pain.
“I have multiple sclerosis-related trigeminal neuralgia, widely regarded as the worst chronic pain disease known to man. Sometimes, it is essential to try to focus on something else — anything else — while waiting for relief. I like to keep YouTube playlists based on subjects/video genres I enjoy, and add to it regularly without watching them first. So when the pain hits, I just choose a subject and go with it. It seems like a minor thing, but it really does help when you need to keep it together.”
2. Revamp your wardrobe with comfortable clothes.
“Ever since I was diagnosed with endometriosis six months ago, I had to relearn how my body operates. It was a good time to revamp my wardrobe. Right now I’m obsessed with leggings, bralettes, sweaters, and socks because they’re so comfortable and they alleviate the chronic discomfort.”
3. Write down the activities you can do at different pain levels — both for yourself and others.
“Frustrated that I wasn’t getting out as much anymore, I made a list of everything I could do at my different levels of pain and distributed it to my close friends and family. Now when someone reaches out to spend time with me I have a lot more options than I did before and I’m far less likely to cancel knowing that I can tolerate what I’m about to do. It also has helped my loved ones know how to help me best.”
4. Wake up early so you can prepare for the day slowly.
“When I wake up, many of my joints are extremely stiff and it takes about an hour to get going. My remedy is to wake up 40 minutes before I actually need to get out of bed. I take one pain pill and one muscle relaxer and eat a few crackers to eliminate any queasy feelings from the medicine. After about 20 minutes laying under an electric blanket, I do some gentle stretching to help ease my stiffness. When it’s time to get out of bed, my pain has dropped to a manageable level and I can get on with my day.”
5. Take up journaling so you have a place to vent.
“This is truly what keeps me sane. Sometimes I just need to get my anger, frustration, depression, etc. out in a way where I don’t have to worry about judgement or hurting anyone’s feelings.”
6. Or open up to someone you trust, so that you don’t have to keep it all to yourself.
“Being able to take a step back from my hectic college life, and get feedback on my feelings helps me tremendously.”
7. Embrace the magic of a really, really good bath.
“Let’s talk about baths for a second, okay? Joints feeling achy? Been on a cane for a few days? March (or roll) yourself to a damn tub, throw in (or have someone help you throw in) a half cup of epsom bath salts. Turn off the lights and soak for as long as you damn well please. A hot bath eases my pain in such a wonderful way. And ~bonus~: it helps melt the stress away, which can help ward off flare ups!
If you’re in a particularly bad flare up and getting in and out of a tub isn’t doable (we’ve all been there!), a seated shower works wonders as well!”
8. Give yoga a try.
“I’ve been suffering from a compression fracture in my vertebrae since I was 15, going on 16. As it’s worsened over time, I’ve recently taken up yoga and it’s so far the best thing I could do for my back because it helps strengthen both my core and my back, as well as teach me balance, flexibility, and good posture.”
9. Exercise in the water for a lower-impact workout.
“Aquatic physical therapy is also a huge help. The buoyancy is such a help when it comes to doing exercises to keep your strength up as well as your range of motion and flexibility.”
10. Use tennis balls or other tools to work your muscles at home.
“Tennis or racquet balls or tools like the Knobble are AMAZING for sciatica and piriformis muscle pain. Lay on your back, put the ball or the Knobble tool under your butt cheek, and adjust the position until you get it directly under the spot where the spasm or sciatica is occurring. It feels sooooo good when it releases the muscle.”