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15 Products That Help People With Chronic Illness Manage Their Mental Health

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Editor's Note

We hope the products below help you or a loved one in your health journeys. Just so you know, The Mighty may collect a share of sales from the affiliate links on this page.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, life with a chronic condition has become even more difficult for many of us. One big way I’ve found joy in the wake of some crushing changes is by amassing an epic collection of LEGO® bricks.

It turns out I only stopped playing with them at age 13 or 14 because I was afraid of getting teased. Well, now I just don’t care, and my favorite toy is just as fun as ever! What’s more is that now it’s a perfect medicine for the mental strains of adulting… with a chronic illness.

We recently asked our Mighty readers what your go-to products are to help manage your mental health, and what a beautiful list you offered up! Products range from soothing to whimsical:

1. Noise-canceling headphones can help with the sound sensitivity and sensory overload people with chronic pain and chronic illness often experience.

“A really good pair of over-the-ear, noise-canceling headphones. It helps block the world out. I listen to music, nature sounds, books, etc. — Rhonda L.

2. Using a mobility aid can reduce chronic illness fatigue and make getting out of the house easier, improving mental health.

“My wheelchair. I’d really missed going to the woods to keep me sane, and it helps so much to be able to do that again.” — Liesbeth B.

3. Video games can be a great distraction and help with stress and anxiety at medical appointments.

“My Nintendo Switch. I honestly don’t know what I’d do without it. It lets me play games literally anywhere — at home in bed, in the hospital, at doctor appointments, anywhere. It also lets me connect with friends and gives me an opportunity to try to forget about things for a little while.” — Katie C.

4. Try natural remedies for calming and chronic pain relief — but consult your doctor first.

Hemp oil takes away the pain and gives a calming effect. Also, I use essential oils often to help keep me balanced.” — Maree M.

5. Reading a book can be a great distraction from chronic illness symptoms.

“Books. Especially manga/graphic novels. They don’t take much brainpower to read as they’re mostly pictures, and they can be really uplifting.” — Jerica W.

6. Art can help you express your feelings and improve mental health with chronic illness.

Canvas and paint. When I let my emotions out on the canvas, even if nothing is ‘fixed,’ it’s still healing.” — Patricia G.

7. A little self-care such as a manicure can go a long way when your chronic condition is getting you down.

Nail polish. A fresh manicure can help anyone smile, so even when I feel bad I will try to sit down and do my nails. It helps to distract me from the pain during, and helps bring a smile to my face later when I’m stuck in bed.” — Tiffany H.

8. Mobile devices can keep you connected and entertained while stuck at home due to chronic illness.

“My iPad! I draw, and it helps keep my mind off my symptoms. I’d be lost without it!” — Misty L.

9. Hug a stuffed animal to relieve stress related to chronic symptoms.

“My stuffed panda my sister got for me. Stuffed animals are awesome and can do wonders for someone living with a chronic illness.” — Jacqueline C.

10. Knit or crochet to clear your mind.

“I crochet. So, my answer should be, yarn. With any craft like crochet, or knitting, you spend a lot of time just counting. It’s almost like a form of meditation for me. There is nothing else in my head besides my counts.” — Chrissy T.

11. Express your feelings about your chronic illness in a journal.

“I have a journal called ‘The Way of the Tortoise’ and letters that I write to myself that can be opened at a later date. Helps focus on positive things.” — Teresa J.

12. Scented candles, LED candles, and wax melts can help you get into a state of mindfulness despite chronic pain.

Scented candles. The combination of the calming scent and the atmospheric flickering of the light always make me stop for a few minutes and enjoy some mindfulness, no matter what kind of day I’ve had.” — Danielle S.

13. Adult coloring books can help you relax after a stressful doctor’s appointment or bad pain day.

“Adult coloring books. They’re so relaxing, especially the color by numbers, because I don’t have to decide which colors to use.” — Stephanie S.

14. Card games and board games — you can even play with friends online, or invite them over for a low-stress gathering.

“When I feel burned out, it’s my card games that help me feel less crappy. Yu-Gi-Oh and Pokémon especially.” — Wendy J.

15. Read stories on The Mighty, and join Communities to connect with others navigating mental health and chronic illness.

“Reading stories here helps me to know that many others are going through the same thing. This site helps us keep a more positive attitude, so thank you for all that you do.” — Lezlie B.

Want more ideas? Take it one step further and make yourself a care package for your worst days! 

What would you add? Let us know in the comments below.

Originally published: October 1, 2021
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