11. Figure out the best ways to relax so you can keep your stress levels down.
“I’ve tried many things, and I’ve found that relaxation and meditation are KEY. When you’re in times of stress, it’s SO easy to tense and make pain worse. Relaxation can be reached in the easiest ways — playing a game, taking a nap, watching a show, reading a book. Basically anything that makes you feel good and takes your mind off of things. Also, I find that meditations are quite calming and make your awareness of your body keen. I agree it takes some time and effort for meditations to work, but in my opinion, it’s worth it.”
12. See a doctor who specializes in pain management.
“A pain doctor ended up being my saving grace. Physical therapy wasn’t working, my chiropractor wasn’t doing it, biweekly massages weren’t cutting it, and I was so ready to give up. Then I went to a pain doctor, did a DNA test to find the right painkillers for me, got Botox injections at the pain sites (chronic back pain), and touched up in between with trigger point injections. My quality of life changed so much by seeing a pain doctor.”
13. Stock up on all the heated things — pads, mattress toppers, jackets, car seats, whatever.
“[My mattress pad] has a set in timer that lasts 10 hours. It’s also a good way for me to know if I’ve been sleeping too long.”
14. And invest in a blanket that will be your new best friend.
“This might sound weird but having a big fluffy blanket, like a down comforter, is so helpful. It helps cushion my joints when I can’t lay regularly, especially my arms. It’s also provides a good cozy feeling that helps me emotionally, too. When I’m having a really bad flare up, sometimes I just need some extra time in bed and it helps to be comfortable. Sometimes that extra hour or two of sleep makes a huge difference with a flare up.”
15. Utilize wheelchairs and other mobility aids when you need them.
“Do not be afraid to use mobility aids. I’ve had quite a few experiences where I wouldn’t have been able to go out or participate in an event, but using a wheelchair made it possible. A lot of Spoonies are afraid to use mobility aids because many abled people out there can get pretty judgmental (it sucks, I know), but they aren’t the ones who are living your life, and you can guarantee they’d use mobility aids in a heartbeat if they had even a fraction of your pain.”
16. Get comfortable saying “no” without beating yourself up.
“There are going to be times where doing something isn’t an option, whether it’s because you’re having a bad flare day or it’s simply dangerous for your health. Your safety is more important than another person’s opinion, and if they’re really going to make it hard on you, then they’re not worth your time anyway.”
17. Join a support group to connect with people who actually get it.
“Finding the right support group helped me a lot. I have Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, which causes chronic pain among other things. Thankfully mine isn’t too bad right now, but I’m also a collegiate swimmer, and sometimes the pain gets pretty bad and not many people understand. Luckily I found a support group on Facebook specifically for athletes with EDS and it’s been very reassuring to know there are other people in my exact situation.”
18. Pick up an artistic hobby that can serve as a distraction or self-care act.
“Since I had to deal with my chronic pain alone, arts and crafts have been a huge outlet for me. They allow me to focus on the task at hand and make the more daunting tasks of the day go away. Even for people who don’t think they’re good at crafting, anything’ll do!”
19. Consider getting a pet.
“We currently have two guinea pigs and taking care of them and playing with them helps me more than anything else in this world. They help my PTSD, but also help my pain conditions because I take better care of myself to take care of them.”
20. Don’t get just any old massage — seek out one designed to help your pain.
“Therapeutic massage therapy! Massage therapy definitely cannot help everything, but if you can find a therapist who truly understands the body and how the nerves and muscles interact, they might be able to start you on the track to feeling better. Don’t go to a spa expecting medical-grade bodywork — do some research and find someone who specializes in what you need.
Final note: therapeutic massage does NOT necessarily mean deep tissue. If your massage therapist hurts you, they’re doing it wrong. If your body is more comfortable with light-touch massage, that’s okay! It can still be massively beneficial.”