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Getting Back on Track After Coming Out of a Pain Flare


This past weekend I had plans to go to a festival, go dancing and go visit my parents. Unfortunately, none of those were accomplished. I spent nearly all weekend in my bed or at doctors’ offices, trying in vain to reduce the amount of pain I was in due to a flare.

Living with chronic pain sometimes means I lose time I have scheduled for other activities. Outside of the weekend festivities I missed, I also missed the opportunity to start studying for the three exams I have this week and finish my homework.

Sometimes my body can’t get out of bed, or I can’t focus through the pain, or a number of other factors play in and I simply lose time in which I could be productive. Because the world continues to turn while this happens, I’ve devised a method for getting back on track when I am physically capable of doing so.

Break Down the Tasks You Need to Get Done

This week for me, that looks like dividing the information I need to study into bite-sized chunks. I take care to create activities I can do in 10-20 minutes and then give myself a break. In that 10-20 minutes, I’m aiming to accomplish whatever I set out for myself – be that read 10 pages or put in a load of laundry. Whatever I’m catching up on, it’s done in small amounts so I can continue to rest my body and care for myself.

Schedule Your Newly Broken-Down Tasks

This sounds simple, but when I’m trying to get back on my feet after a rough flare, I try to schedule everything in a very specific time block. I’ll take my broken-down tasks and put them into time slots that work for me. I also put eating, hygiene, physical and social activities into time slots. This allows me to take a step back from how overwhelmed I am and develop a plan-of-action to get what needs to be accomplished, done.

Be Kind to Yourself

The worst part of coming out of a flare, for me, is the harsh way I tend to interact with myself. I didn’t choose to sit in my bed in pain all weekend/week/month, but I always seem to blame myself as if I had chosen to do so. I am doing my best with the conditions I have, and so are you. Treat yourself as you would someone else with your condition, and tell yourself it’s OK if not everything gets done. Re-evaluate your tasks and schedules as needed to ensure you’re taking care of yourself rather than further overwhelming yourself.

Remember, above all else, you are what matters. Your condition may prevent you from doing some activity, or completing a task on time, and that’s frustrating. It’s still frustrating for me, but with a little flexibility and appreciation for everything I and my body do for myself, I have been able to move towards viewing these pain flares as time for self-compassion. Everything will get done, but your health and well-being have to come first.

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Thinkstock photo via gpointstudio.