Welcome to the second of our weekly articles in May, in which we ask women in Northern Ireland with chronic pain to share the self-care tips that help them to cope. Here are their latest suggestions.
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.
Watch an addictive TV drama series
“Since being diagnosed with fibromyalgia, I’ve really struggled with reading novels. Instead, I binge-watch Danish crime dramas on Netflix. The plot twists distract me from the pain and I’ve learned lots of Danish words which keeps my brain active.”
Fill your wardrobe with comfy clothes
“I love clothes that allow for easy movement. I get swelling around the stomach due to lymphedema so I look for trousers with drawstrings. I also wear three pairs of socks to keep my feet warm and ease the discomfort I feel from having spondylitis.”
Make social media a soothing influence
“I’ve always been a dog lover but I can’t have one because I have multiple pain conditions and would struggle to take care of it. Instead, I collect my favourite dog pictures on Instagram. If I’m feeling down, I’ll look at them and feel better.”
Always take your medication at the right time
“If I take my medication for fibromyalgia too late in the day, it knocks me out. So I set my alarm for 6.45am, take my meds, then go back to bed. When it’s time to get up again, my pain has dropped to a reasonable level and I can get on with my day.”
Do things to boost your self-esteem
“I loved my job as a teacher and was devastated when I had to give up work due to chronic pain. Recently, I’ve started dog-sitting and I’ve taken in a lodger. It wouldn’t work for everyone, but it helps me to feel more self-sufficient and less like a victim.”
Confide in a trusted friend
“What really helped me was finding a friend who suffers with chronic pain and talking it about it with her. We met at our local support group and turn to each other on bad days. She doesn’t mind if I have the occasional meltdown as she has them too.”
Give meditation apps a go
“I like meditation apps, in particular, HeadSpace. It doesn’t ease the pain from my fibromyalgia, but it helps me to step outside my pain and observe how I feel about it.”
Find the right dance class for you
“I have fibromyalgia so most dance classes are off-limits for me, but I find Zumba for the over-60s helpful. It’s a lot slower and gentler than the standard Zumba class and the instructor gets us all laughing at ourselves. I always leave feeling really good.”
Try out gadgets that might make life easier
“A cup of tea in the morning is a must-have for me but the wrist pain from my fibromyalgia means I’m always in danger of dropping the kettle. Recently, I replaced it with a hot water dispenser which works at the press of a button. Making a cup of tea is much easier and safer now.”
Listen to the Pain Toolkit podcasts
“I love listening to podcasts and my favourite is Pete Moore’s Pain Toolkit series. Pete suffers from osteoarthritis and his free podcasts are packed with easy pain management tips. My arthritis can keep me awake at night, so I found the sleep tips in episode 5 particularly useful.”
Margaret, South Belfast
If you suffer from chronic pain, you might want to discover more ways to take care of yourself. So here are some quick resources:
- For even more self-care tips, check out "10 Self-Care Tips For People With Chronic Pain To Try This Week"
- Here are more ways to relieve the symptoms of fibromyalgia.
- If you have arthritis, here are some chair exercises to help you stay mobile.
This is a weekly series in May. 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.