In the third part of this weekly series in May, women in Northern Ireland living with chronic pain share 10 more creative ways they make life easier for themselves.
Note: These aren’t meant to be medical advice. They’re tips that have worked for others and might work for you. Think carefully about your own situation and what works for you before trying anything new. Consider checking with others including your doctor before you use them.
We'd like to thank the Resurgam Trust in Lisburn for taking part in this article.
Take control with the Pain Toolkit
Binge-read a book you can’t put down
“I love to read modern thrillers like Lee Child’s novels about Jack Reacher. When pain from my spondylitis gets bad I tell myself, “I’ll get my book and I’ll get comfy”. Then before I know it, I’m halfway through the book! I call it my ‘mental medication’.”
Give Pilates a try
“I’m taking a Pilates class to help ease my back pain. I have to do the exercises very slowly but it’s helped me to develop a strong core, which has taken the pressure off my back. It keeps me fit and I love to talk so the socialising is good as well!”
Consider alternative therapies like acupuncture
“A few years ago, I paid privately to have acupuncture on my painful neck. It didn’t work immediately but after a few sessions there was some improvement. It doesn’t get results for everyone but it’s worth a try to improve your quality of life.”
Margaret, South Belfast
Take up gardening to improve your wellbeing
“I’ve tried many things to alleviate my anxiety and I’ve found that what’s working for me is gardening. Simply planting seedlings and watching them gradually unfurl takes me away from my worries. It’s very calming in times of stress.”
Try a TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation) unit
“I use a TEN’S machine for relief from my back pain. I put it on my lower back and it pulsates and delivers an electrical impulse that affects how pain signals are sent to the brain. I have friends who’ve found it makes no difference to their pain but I couldn’t be without it.”
Give scent therapy a try
“I love essential oils and I find dabbing them on my pulse points can help me to get on with my day. Everyone has a scent or a blend that works for them. I like lemon eucalyptus as it gives me energy when the pain from my fibromyalgia comes on.”
Visualise yourself in a different place
“Sitting meditation is difficult for me because I have a spinal curvature. Instead, I put on classical ballet music and imagine I’m in the audience or the person controlling the curtain in a posh theatre. It takes me far, far away from my worries.”
Exercise in water for a gentle workout
“I suffer with lower back pain and hypertension and have tried many different therapies. Water therapy helps to increase the blood supply to my muscles and really eases my back pain. The feel of the water is also very comforting.”
Seek advice on anxiety
“When I developed depression as a result of chronic pain, I contacted the charity Action Mental Health Northern Ireland who enrolled me on a self-care programme and gave me advice on getting back to work. They never once made me feel embarrassed for having mental health issues.”
Got a self-care tip to ease chronic pain you’d like to suggest? Share what has worked best for you in the comments below and your response could appear in an upcoming MyNI health article.
If you suffer from chronic pain, you might want to discover more ways to take care of yourself. So here are some quick resources: