We all get 24 hours in a day, and time management can be a challenge for anyone. Those 24 hours can fly by, and it can seem like there is never enough time to get everything done. But when you live with a chronic pain condition like fibromyalgia or degenerative disc disease, your time is even more limited. How can you effectively manage your time and prioritize what you need to do when you live with an unpredictable illness like arthritis or chronic fatigue syndrome?
When I got sick, it was like my life, my dreams, goals, and plans were shattered into hundreds of pieces. Learning how to put those pieces back together in a way that made sense for me was challenging. But effectively prioritizing your day when you’re dealing with chronic pain management is possible. I’ve tried many different techniques and have found success with them, and I’m happy to share them with you.
As a chronic pain patient, what I’ve found the most helpful is learning how to focus on my goals, and avoiding negative distractions. These are a few strategies I use to prioritize and manage my time as I live with a painful illness.
Why is it so important for chronic pain sufferers to manage their time?
Pain and sickness are unpredictable, and you can’t schedule them into neat little boxes on your calendar. Pain can strike out of nowhere. As a person living with arthritis or fibromyalgia, your ability to accomplish your goals for the day are relegated to short windows of time when you feel your best. You’ll have to effectively plan your day if you want to get things done before your medication wears off or you take a turn for the worse.
Sometimes, you’ll have to postpone an activity until your medication takes effect for the day. And for some people, they will want to participate in an event that they know they will need to recover from. When this happens, it’s vital that you get everything you need to get done before you participate and then need to take a day or two off recuperating. Think of planning and prioritizing your time as another technique to add to your pain management arsenal.
- Focus on the Present
If can be very easy to get overwhelmed either feeling guilty about what you didn’t accomplish in the past, or worrying about how you’ll be able to manage your time in the future. Time spent worrying about things that have already come to pass, or things that haven’t even happened yet is time truly wasted. Plus, fearing the future or nail-biting about the past is a great way to stress yourself out. As a chronic pain patient, the last thing you need is more stress. It’s bad for you emotionally and physically, and stress can make your pain worse.
So, focus on the present. How do you feel now, and what can you reasonably accomplish? Are you waiting for your medication to kick in? Relax for a little bit until your pain lessens. Distract yourself with music, a game on your phone, or a book. Take a hot shower to alleviate any muscle soreness or stiffness. But whatever you do, don’t worry about what you can’t get done right now. While the pain may be unbearable, it will eventually subside, and you will find relief soon enough to start working on your tasks.
- Prioritize the Start of Your Day
Start your day right by prioritizing what you hear. As a chronic pain patient, it’s incredibly easy to fall into a spiral of depression. Negative thoughts are so hard to stop when you feel terrible. An effective way to prevent negative thoughts from getting worse is to start your day by listening to something positive. Hearing motivational speeches or uplifting podcasts from other chronic pain sufferers can help counter a negative feedback loop if you find yourself stuck in one.
When you’re at-risk of depression, it’s crucial that you avoid negative things that can trigger the cycle. It might seem corny, but staying positive can help prevent a depressive episode from taking over.
- Give Yourself Plenty of Time
Having to rush out the door is an awful feeling even for people who don’t have a chronic illness. For someone with a health condition, waking up rushed will stress you out and make your pain worse. You also risk forgetting important things, like your emergency pain medication or arthritis gloves.
Give yourself enough time to wake up and get ready before you need to leave. This will help you both mentally and physically prepare for the day ahead. You may even need to relax in bed for several minutes after you get dressed, but that’s okay. Prioritizing your health and personal needs is one of the best ways to manage your time effectively.
- Be Kind to Yourself
Most of the time, the pressure we feel to accomplish things comes from inside of ourselves, and not from other people or even most circumstances. When you go from being active to slowing way down from a chronic pain condition, you can feel guilty and put pressure on yourself to be as active as you used to be. The thing is, your life is different now. It’s crucial that you’re kind to yourself and really focus on what’s truly important for you at this stage in your life. Remember, you need to be your biggest advocate and supporter. Don’t hesitate to reach out to your pain management doctors and advocate for better pain or arthritis pain management.
As someone who lives with chronic pain every day, I’ve tried many different techniques and methods for prioritizing my time and my health. I created this blog to help other chronic pain patients find alternative, effective pain management techniques that work for them. Please look through my previous articles on pain and time management for chronic pain sufferers. I’ve personally used these methods and have had success with them.
My goal is that this site will become a resource for you so you can get some relief from your pain and find peace and contentment in your life. It’s hard to live with chronic pain, but it is possible to have great experiences still and live a full, satisfying life despite chronic pain and its limitations.