Self-care is vital
It seems that everyone thinks that self-care is about taking bubble baths and painting your nails. And while those things can certainly be a part of it, self-care is about so much more.
True self-care means:
- getting enough sleep
- exercising (when and if you can)
- making sure you are eating enough
- going to the doctor when you need to
- making sure your physical, mental, and emotional needs are being met
- getting the right mix of alone time and social interaction
- having access to healthy foods and fresh water
- saying “no” to the things you don’t want to do
- spending time having fun and/or laughing
- avoiding abusive people/ situations
- having down time/ time to relax
- being nice to yourself
Self-care is about nurturing yourself. It is about making sure that you care as deeply for yourself as you would for anyone else that you love.
You must be your own advocate
People who haven’t had to deal with chronic pain often do not understand our needs.
Sadly, there are also plenty of people out there who should know better but for one reason or another, are dismissive, rude, and hurtful. (I’m talking to you, doctors.)
Even though it can be uncomfortable, speak up.
Whether you need your groceries bagged a certain way, are trying to get your doctor to understand that what you are dealing with this time is NOT depression, or are trying to get your boss to schedule you for fewer hours than normal due to a flare up, chances are the person you’re speaking with isn’t gonna get it.
So, even though it can be draining (and as much as it sucks), we are responsible for making sure our needs are met.
And if the people we are dealing with cannot help us, it is up to us to find someone else who can.
You are valuable, even if you can’t be “productive”
This is something I really struggled with early in my chronic pain journey.
We grow up believing that our worth is defined by what we do in this culture. That if we aren’t hustling, or always busy, we are somehow lazy or wrong.
And I bought into it, big time.
So, when I suddenly found myself unable to work and in constant pain after a car wreck one day nearly seventeen years ago, I didn’t just feel lost.
I had a full-blown identity crisis.
But here’s the thing…
People are inherently valuable. Simply by being.
The culture we live in? The one that tells us we are nothing if we aren’t accomplishing all day, every day? Always striving to do more, be better?
It is wrong.
And it is unhealthy as hell to try to live that way.
Rest and relaxation are non-negotiable, human needs.
And while I would love to have learned that lesson without chronic pain forcing it on me, I don’t think I would have.
As far as productivity goes, I do the best I can. Some days that means I accomplish one important task and that is it. Other days I manage more.
Either way, I know that I’m doing what I can. And that is more than enough.
What have you learned from living with chronic pain?