Practicing self-care can be a really struggle when you're dealing with chronic pain or chronic illness, but it's really an important part of your entire care plan. We've put together this list of self-care activities for you to try and discover what helps you feel most cared for on days where chronic pain is tough.
When you're experiencing pain, the natural inclination is to push it away. However, this can make those nagging thoughts about the pain only feel more intense and invasive. Taking a few minutes to meditate can help to ease stress, and may even help to reduce pain. Sleepy Santosha's Body Scan Meditation for Chronic Pain Relief or Yoga By Candace's 5 Minute Guided Meditation for Stress Relief are both good places to start.
Change Your Pajamas and Dry Shampoo Your Hair
Sometimes you just need a good PJ day! But, staying in those jammies all day can leave you feeling a little grimmy. Something as simple as changing into a clean pair of pajamas can help you feel a little refreshed. While you're at it, why not brush a little dry shampoo through your hair to feel a bit more rejuvenated. Bonus: if you're able, change your sheets and bedding, too!
Escape with an Audiobook
Curling up with a great book can be a great way to spend your self-care time, but if you're feeling especially tired, it's not always the most comfortable thing to do. An audiobook can be an awesome way to enjoy a good read without having to do anything but lay there and shut your eyes.
Do Something Creative
When you're feeling exhausted and in pain, doing something creative might be the last thing on your mind. But it can be a wonderful way to gently take your mind off things while doing something that you enjoy. We recommend doing something creative that works for you, but painting, drawing, and sculpting are all great places to start.
Have a Soothing Bath
If you're able, the combination of heat and the weightlessness that water provides can be super soothing for pain. Adding Epson salts can help to further reduce pain, tension, and inflammation, while essential oils like rosemary and marjoram can be helpful for easing pain. Make it an experience by playing music that relaxes you while you soak.
Try Self-Massage or Acupressure
If you're not able to make it to a treatment, taking a few minutes to practice some self-massage or acupressure if you can may help to provide a little relief. To get started, try checking out these common pressure points for pain relief or follow these tips for self-massage. For something a little more passive, an acupressure mat or pillow like those from Bed of Nails can help to increase circulation to reduce pain, while also promoting relaxation.
Do Your Makeup or Paint Your Nails
When you're not feeling great and plan to spend most of the day in bed or on the couch, doing your make-up or painting your nails isn't likely something you'd think of. But, if it's an activity that you enjoy, taking the time to paint a bright colour on your toes or swiping on your favourite lipstick may help to brighten your mood.
Watch a Funny Video
Science has shown that laughing releases feel-good endorphins, helps reduce stress, and can even improve immunity, so there's plenty of reason to click on that funny cat video or sit down to watch your favourite comedy.
Do Yoga in Bed or Try Chair Yoga
Yoga can be a wonderful way to help reduce stiffness, loosen up tight muscles, and increase circulation. But you don't have to roll out your mat or head to a yoga class to get the benefits. Some simple stretches in bed or in your chair can be a gentle way to move your body without overexerting yourself. Sleepy Santosha's Supine Bed Yoga for Spoonies is an entire sequence of gentle yoga poses that take place on your back in bed, or try Kristin McGee's Chair Yoga Poses for Self-Care.
Nourish Your Body
Ensuring that you're eating properly and staying hydrating on days when you're struggling with pain can be difficult, but it is an important part of self-care. We recommend grabbing an insulated bottle to help keep your drinks warm or cold so you don't have to get up as often. Bad pain days are also perfect for digging into any freezer meals you have stashed or ordering in - we recommend something light with a bit of protein.
Chronic pain and fatigue is super tough to deal with - especially if it interferes with some awesome things you had planned for the day. Journaling can be a way to help release these emotions and get your thoughts out in a safe place. It can also be a way to keep track of your pain levels, anything that helps, and any circumstances that may have increased your pain to help provide you and your doctor with information that can help manage your pain levels going forward.
Ask for Help
Asking for help is something that can be so difficult to do - but it's also difficult to deal and manage chronic pain on your own. Asking friends and family for help with meals, pet care, cleaning, or just some company can really help to relieve pressure on yourself, while also giving your loved ones something practical they can do to help. If support is limited, reach out to your doctor for help and information about resources, or consider joining an online community for support.
Allow Yourself Guilt-Free Screen Time
When you're dealing with a chronic illness, you might find that you spend more time on the internet, playing video games, or watching Netflix - and that's totally okay! All of these methods can really help to provide a welcome distraction and give you something to do when you're in bed or laying on the couch, so allow yourself permission to embrace this.
Take Any Prescribed Medication and Try Topical Pain Relievers
It seems simple, but taking your prescribed medication as directed (and with any food and water as required!) is another important part of your self-care. Applying topical pain relievers may also help to provide a little bit of relief. We love Coast and Clearing's Tender Topical Lotion with magnesium to help soothe muscle tension and essential oils chosen to help relief pain and inflammation or Two Bloom's Organic Menthol Balm, which contains cooling essential oils to help ease pain.
Listen to Your Body
One of the most important aspects of self-care when you're dealing with chronic pain is to listen to your body. Respecting your boundaries and practicing self-care when you need it will help to prevent burnout and more pain in the future.