14 Practical Tips and Tools to Help Chronic Illness Warriors
With my physical health being so rough lately, I’ve been slowly gathering practical ways to make life a little easier. Please keep in mind that none of these practical tools is in any way a cure or a treatment for any disease. However, my illnesses, like many, does not have a scientific cure at this time. So, these are practical tips and tools to ease your day-to-day routine.
Do you have any good practicals that help you? Let me know in the comments!
Just so you know, I am not being paid by any companies for posting about any products. These opinions are 100% true and honest.
1. Free Walmart pick up or get delivery for $10 or less.
A few months ago, I researched about Instacart and other grocery delivery services. I learned that Walmart has a free pickup option. You do your shopping online, put in your order, and the Walmart employees do the shopping for you and bring it out to your car. They will even load it up for you if you can’t get out of your car! If you are having a rough time, you can have it delivered to your house for $7 to $10. Or, use my link below to get your first order with a $10 discount! (That means free delivery if you want!)
No wandering around the store.
No temptations for me to impulse buy. (This is a big plus for me!)
If they are out of your item, they will substitute it for higher quality for no cost to you. I often get amazing upgrades for nothing extra!
They bring it right to your car and will load it up for you.
Sometimes they get the wrong item, so check all your orders.
You have to place your order about 12 to 24 hours in advance.
There is a $30 minimum for this service.
Love this tip and want $10 off your first order? Use this link!
2. Wear headphones, even when they are off.
When I go out running errands, I often feel overstimulated and hypersensitive. To fight this, I will wear my headphones and either play rain sounds or nothing at all. What does this do? Well, it blocks a little bit of sound from coming into my ears. It also lets people around me know I am not up for talking. This sounds like a simple thing, but it really helps me to stay focused on my goals and not get distracted or overwhelmed by things around me.
3. Essential oils for comfort — not as an illness cure!
Trust me, the idea that “essential oils will cure you” is such a frustrating notion. If my illness cure was that simple, it would have been found by now.
I know that oils help lots of people, but it’s insensitive to tell people with chronic pain that these will cure their illnesses.
I use essential oils to comfort my symptoms. My favorite is peppermint oil. It helps calm me down and cool me physically when I’m starting to overheat — which is often! I put it on the back of my neck to allow the tingling to relax my muscles in the area my headaches often start. I also put peppermint on my tummy to help nausea. It surprisingly does an amazing job at topically helping stomach aches. Other options are lavender oil, which can help calm anxieties and help your body get ready to sleep; juniper oil can help you to sleep without nightmares; eucalyptus helps with chest pains and coughing; citrus helps with blood flow. And, there are so many more!
4. Timer caps for medicine bottles.
These are my favorite. Shoutout to my amazing husband for finding these on Amazon.
Have you ever wondered if you already took your medicine today? Or wondered when was the last time you took your pain medicine? Wonder no more! These timer caps reset every time they are put back on the bottle. That way you know exactly the last time you took your meds. Also, shoutout to the company for being awesome; two months after I got my set of two, one of the lids’ batteries ran out. I wrote to the company on Amazon and they sent me a whole new set without question! I absolutely love companies that don’t make you do a bunch of extra work just to fix their faulty product.
Want your own timer caps? Shop here to buy four for $20. The Timer Caps brand also has other sizes.
5. An anti-anxiety kit.
I carry an “anti-anxiety kit” with me in my purse everywhere I go, but my kit isn’t just for my anxiety. I fill it with all kinds of things that help my daily pain problems.
What’s in my bag?
- My aforementioned peppermint oil.
- Something squishy: Play-Doh, a small stuffed animal, some clay — anything soft I can repeatedly squish to distract myself.
- A small container with my emergency medicines.
- Lotion that helps when my skin dries up and gets irritated.
- Pen and paper to draw and write.
- Protein bar — protein can help keep my tension headaches at bay, so I try to have some kind of food with me everywhere I go.
6. Tiny medicine capsule that attaches to my wallet.
This tiny pill container holds my most important pain and anxiety medicine. And it’s iridescent! Which is always a plus in my book. There are lots of kinds on Amazon Prime, though. I connected mine to my wallet so I can find it in my purse quickly.
You can find the one I have here.
7. Canned oxygen.
This one might seem like something just for travel. And while it does help when traveling, especially in higher elevation, this item helps me at any time. On days when my headaches are extra rough or my pain is difficult in general, breathing in some extra oxygen can help your body “boost” its pain-fighting skills. (That’s a pun because the brand of canned air I use is called Boost.) You can find oxygen bars in lots of major cities, or maybe try a spa or cryotherapy business that also does oxygen treatments.
8. Encouraging trinket tray to set pills on.
This may seem frivolous, but I love having a trinket tray on my nightstand that has encouraging words on it. Mine says, “I am not afraid. I was born to do this.” This tray is where I lay out my medicine before I take it. I love seeing these words as a reminder I am strong and a warrior who can overcome this. I actually had a store-bought tray with these words long before I started making my own encouraging trinket dishes. You can see mine here.
9. Zim’s MaxFreeze, Icy Hot or pain-relieving patches.
Personally, I hate the heat, which is why I never use Icy Hot. But, to each their own! I use Zim’s MaxFreeze, which is similar to BioFreeze. I prefer MaxFreeze and it’s cheaper. I get it at my Walmart or CVS.
Or, I use rice packs, which I keep in my freezer but can be heated in the microwave. But I know lots of people use heated blankets or cold pillows filled with gel that keeps cool.
10. TENS Unit.
This was a big help when I switched to my husband’s insurance and I couldn’t go to the chiropractor anymore because it was so expensive under the new coverage. Portable TENS Units are made up of electrode pads that send stimulation to your muscles. You can set it to be as light or strong as you need it to be. And, the electrodes can be placed on whichever muscles you need help with. Here’s one on Amazon for $26.99.
11. Thera Cane Massager
Personally, I use a neck cane weekly. The Thera Cane even comes with directions on ways to use it to help your pain in different parts of your back and neck. I’ve also used a homemade tool made up of just two baseballs tied in a sock. I will lie down with that wedged between the floor and my neck which helps relieve tension in my neck, head and shoulders.
Check out the Thera Cane on Amazon for $29.95.
12. Smart lightbulbs and other smart devices.
One of my favorite uses for Alexa is to tell her to turn the lights on or off in certain rooms. Or, I will just use the app on my phone if I’m too tired to speak, which is a sad reality some days. The other amazing thing about our smart bulbs is that they can be dimmed or even turned different colors if I need some light but not so much that it triggers a migraine attack. We also have shortcuts and schedules set up so that if my brain fog makes me forget to turn off the lights downstairs, Alexa will automatically turn them off at midnight. My favorite shortcut I programed is when I say “Alexa, goodnight” she turns all the lights in the house off except for the bedroom lamp that gets turned to 1%, like a nightlight, so that we can get ready for bed. Once I’ve taken my medicine, I’ll turn the bedroom light off. And if I need to be up early in the morning, I set the bedroom light to turn on when my alarm goes off because the light helps me wake up.
As for smart plugs. I use one for things like the hot glue gun in our art studio. That way, if it accidentally gets left plugged in, we can easily have it turn off automatically.
13. Online support pages and groups.
Trust me when I say I understand not being able to leave your house to go to therapy or support groups, or even to meet with close friends who can help you. But that doesn’t mean you have to be completely alone or isolate yourself. There are websites like The Mighty and PsychologyToday.org, and organizations like NAMI, that focus their efforts around helping people with mental health struggles, chronic illness or both. You can even anonymously communicate with others who are dealing with similar struggles.
14. Last but definitely not least… say no.
I’m not saying you should be rude to people, but I am saying it’s completely OK to have healthy boundaries that help you manage the daily struggles with your health. There is a really good book about Boundaries; so good, in fact, that’s the title.
My favorite nickname my husband calls me is his “Gorgeous Warrior.” He chose this title because he says “you fight battles every day that no one else sees.” This is such an important reminder for me — and for all of us — because I often feel like I’m weak for having these struggles every single day. In reality, we need to remember we fight hard to survive each day in ways most people will never understand.
And that, my friends, should be thoroughly celebrated.
Follow this journey on the author’s blog.
Photo by Keenan Constance on Unsplash