A Survival Guide for the Difficult Days, From a Chronic Pain Warrior

I was diagnosed with central sensitization this year, after two years of searching for a diagnosis, and I have my fair share of bad/difficult days due to my chronic pain and many sensitivities. So, I feel I am experienced enough in tough situations to provide you with some tips that I use on my difficult days.

1. Bad day box. For my “bad day box’ I put some Pinch Me Therapy Dough, which is like a therapeutic Play Doh scented which essential oils. Some stickers, a fidget, candy, cards and handwritten letters from friends and family, basically anything that will make me smile!

2. Exercise. Daily exercise is good for everybody, but especially important for people with chronic conditions. Exercise helps manage pain and symptoms, also it releases endorphins that will make you feel better overall.

3. Snack and hydrate. For those out there who have postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS), salty snacks and extra hydration will help you feel far better. For everyone else, snacks and hydration are good for keeping your metabolism in check and will keep your energy and momentum going all day.

4. Good sleep pattern. Try to implement a strict sleep schedule in your life. As someone with a chronic condition, I can tell you how much better you’re likely to feel when you’re getting the proper amount of sleep. For me, eight to nine hours of sleep is ideal.

5. Listen to music. I usually choose something soothing, such as nature sounds or light instrumental music. Pandora has a few good relaxing playlist options.

6. Deep Breathe. Diaphragmatic breathing is key to getting through a difficult day. It increases your lung capacity, decreases stress, helps you relax, and it makes you feel good.

7. Take a bath. Add some epsom salt to help with muscle tension, or add some essential oils for an added relaxing scent.

8. Journal. I journal regularly in my daily life. I love to write and reflect on my days and experiences, so this one is a no-brainer for me. I even have a journal specifically for difficult days. It’s actually a sketchbook, but I either choose to draw or write in it, or both, on my difficult days.

9. Call a friend or a family member. Socializing on difficult days is very good for your mental health. I think the worst thing you can do on a difficult day is isolate yourself. In my experience, when I isolate myself on difficult days, I find my depression slinking in and before I know it it’s suffocating me, and it’s time for me to ask for help.

9. Look up inspirational quotes. Pinterest is full of positive and inspirational quotes. I have even printed some of my favorite inspirational quotes and hung them in my room, put them in my planner, written them down in my notebooks, just to have extra positivity wherever I may need it.

10. Perspective. Remember the big picture. Many times I get get myself and others through difficult moments by reminding myself or them of the bigger picture. Asking what we want to do with our lives, determining if the issues that are challenging us at the time are really worth the stress.

11. Moderate and modify. Take it easy on yourself. You’re only human just like the rest of us, and you can only do the best that you can. If that means lessening your workload that day to something more manageable, then do that. If it means taking more frequent breaks and modifying the work you do so that it is less challenging, then do that too. Don’t push yourself too hard, just take care of yourself and everything else will fall into place.

Remember that everyone has bad days. Each second that you make it through a difficult day is a day that you’re not letting your condition take over you. You are the face of strength, courage, and power!

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.

Related to Chronic Pain

Crutches on the floor.

When Chronic Pain Makes Me Live the 'Crutch Life'

Today I pulled my crutches from their corner. I worry all the time about using my crutches. People will think I’m looking for attention, people will judge me because I’m overweight, people will think I don’t need them. I always ask my husband, “Is this weird?” I worry that he struggles to answer, that he [...]
Portrait of beautiful woman with sparkles on her face.

10 Things I've Learned From Living With Chronic Pain

I’m going to start with a story, my story I guess you could call it. To put what I’ve learnt into perspective and hopefully help someone just like me. I was told I had a chronic illness at the age of 18. That’s the official diagnosis date, but I’ve dealt with the symptoms for much [...]
Woman writing post it notes and sticking them on large window.

3 False Labels I've Been Assigned Because of My Chronic Illness

Everyday terms are used to describe someone’s personality or characteristics, yet when it comes to chronic pain, chronic illness, or mental health, these terms can have much more of an impact. It also goes much deeper than a late night or not enough coffee. It can be all too easy for outsiders to assign terms [...]
Pills spilling out of pill bottle on blue background with text 14 things people with chronic pain wish they knew before taking opioids

14 Things People With Chronic Pain Wish They Knew Before Taking Opioids

Editor’s note: Any medical information included is based on a personal experience. For questions or concerns regarding health, please consult a doctor or medical professional. The stigma that surrounds using opioids for chronic pain often means that people who decide to use them may not know exactly what to expect. Not everyone reacts to opioids in the same way, and it’s [...]