Management and Coping Techniques When You Have a Chronic Condition
Have you recently been diagnosed with a chronic illness that is causing you physical discomfort or even pain? If so, you are probably eager to find some safe pain management techniques that work. Dealing with a chronic condition can be a burden in other ways besides physical pain, too: it is stressful not knowing when you may have a flare-up, and frustrating when others around you don’t recognize the seriousness of what you are enduring.
Processing the diagnosis.
- No one ever wants to learn they have a chronic condition, since this means they’ll be coping with their symptoms indefinitely. But there are still ways you can more easily process the shock.
- Connect with others, in real life or online, who are grappling with a chronic diagnosis. Having someone who understands what you are going through – as opposed to saying “oh, I understand” when they don’t – can help you feel less alone.
- Keep your focus on areas where you are empowered. Maybe you can’t change your diagnosis, but there are many other areas of your life where you do have agency.
- Try to be gentle with yourself. It’s okay to feel anger or frustration. Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t find yourself processing things as easily as you’d like.
- The stages of accepting a chronic diagnosis may be a lot like the stages of grief. Services and organizations to help you process grief, such as Centering Grief Resources, may be helpful for dealing with this new challenge you face.
Some pain management ideas.
- Not every pain management method works for every chronic pain sufferer. Every condition is unique, just as every person is. But here are some techniques recommended by medical professionals.
- Give massage therapy a try. This can be done by going to a professional who focuses on therapeutic approaches such as myofascial release techniques, but you can also use some of these techniques yourself at home.
- Sometimes a hot bath can help. It’s not just psychosomatic, either: heat dilates vessels and increases blood flow, which aids in muscle and joint relaxation.
- When heat doesn’t work, cold might do the trick: ice packs can reduce swelling and help numb injury-related pain.
- Focus on your overall wellness. While healthy foods, good sleep, and exercise aren’t likely to provide actual cures, they can help you feel better both physically and emotionally and make coping with your pain less arduous.
Self-care when you are dealing with chronic pain.
Avoid unhelpful methods of dealing with stress or pain that could make your situation worse. Focus instead on self-care that is genuinely good for you, your body, and your mind.
- Meditation can help you to relax, as it eases stress and anxiety. It may even help you feel better physically.
- Having a clean and pleasant living space is important. If chronic pain makes it hard for you to clean, consider hiring cleaners, organizers, or - if you are dealing with pests – insect or mice exterminators.
- Put on some music to help improve your mood and distract you.
- Make sure you get enough sleep. Lack of sleep can worsen pain and anxiety, whereas with a good night’s sleep you will feel more energized and better equipped to deal with what the day brings you.
Managing chronic pain can feel like a full-time job. You may often feel helpless or overwhelmed. But remember, you are not alone. Seek out support, and work on finding which techniques will promote increased comfort, wellness, and positivity.
"My name is Jackie Waters, and I am a mother of four beautiful and energetic boys. I live with my family on our three-acre hobby farm in Oregon. My goals are to feed our family as much fresh and home-grown food as possible, focus on sustainability while doing so, and practice simplicity. I am here to tell you: you can have it all. With diligence and balance, you can achieve a beautiful, clean home. My journey has been full of challenges, including a diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis, but I’ve learned so much along the way."