Whether you’re newly diagnosed with a condition that causes chronic pain or you’ve lived with it for a long time, living with chronic pain is very challenging. Sometimes, you may feel angry, frustrated, lonely or depressed. Remember, it’s completely normal to feel these emotions. However, it’s also important to learn to be okay living with chronic pain, and we’re here to help with a few self-care tips.
Dealing with morning pain, stiffness and fatigue
Mornings are often challenging for people living with chronic pain. Typically, getting up and moving is a tall order. Pain and stiffness in the morning can last for a few hours for many people with chronic pain, making getting up, dressed and out the door seem nearly impossible.
If this happens to you, here are some techniques you can try:
- Start with gentle movements—Allow yourself to wake up slowly. Sit on the side of your bed and let your legs hang for a few seconds. Then gently wiggle your toes and move your ankles from side to side. Bring the gentle movements up to your arms and fingers, and then up to your shoulders and neck. Instead of rolling your neck, try moving your neck slowly from side to side as if you’re going to touch your ear to your shoulder. Go slowly and at your own pace.
- Stand up slowly—Don’t be in a rush to stand up after your gentle movements. Place both feet flat on the floor and balance yourself by holding the side of the bed. Let yourself stand for a few seconds before trying to walk. When you start walking, take your time.
- Take a warm shower—Now that you’re up and starting to move around, help your body by taking a warm shower. Warm, moist heat may help your joints and muscles relax even more, helping you decrease pain and stiffness.
- Avoid hard to wear clothes—Clothes can be hard to wear if you have chronic pain, especially tight-fitting clothes or things with buttons or laces. Wear clothes that you feel most comfortable in and that are easy for you to put on.
Letting go of what other people say
While most people try to be encouraging and their comments are well-intentioned, sometimes people say things that can feel hurtful. Living with chronic pain isn’t easy and can often be hard for loved ones to understand.
There are many well-intentioned things people may say, and a few common and unhelpful phrases may include but are not limited to the following:
- “You don’t look sick.”
- “I understand completely. One time, I had this cold that lasted for a week.”
- “I had a friend who had that same problem and was cured.”
- “You need to see this one doctor I heard about on TV.”
- “You just have to push through the pain.”
- “Stay positive because someone has it worse than you.”
Chronic pain is caused by other conditions, and these chronic conditions cannot be cured. Hearing these phrases can be frustrating and tiring.
If your family, friends or co-workers say something that bothers you or comes across as insensitive, try not to take it personally. While this is very hard to do, it can help you let go of what people say.