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17 Five-Minute 'Hacks' That Can Make Life With Chronic Illness Way Easier

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When an illness is chronic, it becomes part of your everyday life and routine… which can be tough, considering the challenges being chronically sick can bring. Managing your work, family and social life while dealing with recurring symptoms, doctor appointments and fatigue every day, means you may benefit from a “hack” or two — a strategy or way of doing things that saves you energy, time and stress. And on those really tough days, you need a hack that is especially quick and easy. Something that only takes a couple minutes to do but can help you reduce pain, finish a chore or even stay organized.

Luckily, our chronic illness community is full of ideas for spoonie “hacks” that, in just a few minutes, can make your life easier and help you conserve energy for the rest of your day. Check out what your fellow warriors recommended when we asked them for a “hack” that only takes a few minutes, but can have a big impact on managing your life with chronic illness.

Here are the hacks our community told us:

  1. “Keep an emergency kit in the car. Ibuprofen, muscle rub, etc. Things hit when you least expect them and having a kit in the car (or grab for a purse when someone else drives) can be a lifesaver. Put a list of meds and a contact number in there, too!” — Jenn B.
  2. “Use an app on your phone to set up alarms for your meds/treatments, which allows you to get reminders at correct times throughout the day (my favorite is Round Health).” — Bethany R.
  3. “Honestly, I love being able to communicate with my doctors via the health portals. I sometimes have difficulty with speech due to muscle weakness and being able to clearly outline my needs without a phone call is very helpful. I can also check my appointments I never remember to write down and basic labs and health information.” — Masha P.
  4. “Make a nest… it has water, medications, my phone and charger, my purse for peppermints, TENS unit and heating pad. I also have a remote control light/overhead fan. I also have my laptop and comfy pillows. I check notes on all symptoms and also as reminders.” — Amber O.
  5. “Essential oil blends and an essential oil diffuser! All customizable according to desired effects (to sleep well, focus more, breathe better, relieve stress, etc.).” — Jan M.
  6. “For me, a hack to feel better is five minutes of stretching/yoga. It always amazes me how big a difference just taking a few minutes to stretch feels compared to when I don’t do it, or worse, go months without doing it. It’s a huge difference for me in terms of how my body feels.” — Liberty W.
  7. “Pushing through and calling a friend, even trying to visit. It helps to forget the alone feeling sometimes. It’s not going away, so I suck it up a lot to try to have a life even if it’s a small social one.” — Heather D.
  8. “Having an Echo and Amazon Prime account. It makes buying things like supplements and household supplies I need so much easier. I don’t need to make a trip to the store, and with Prime I get it in just two days. I can order the items right when I am thinking about it by just talking to the Echo. Before I would always end up forgetting what I needed, even if I made a list, so I would have to make multiple trips to the store which puts a lot of strain on me.” — Kayleigh B.
  9. “Set your bed up before you leave to go anywhere. Make sure it’s cleared, the pillows are set up, you have water/meds/etc., that way when you come home you can just go straight to bed and lie down. You don’t have to clear anything away; it’s all set and ready to go.” — Janelle F.
  10. “I embraced my curly hair. Instead of time/energy trying to straighten it, I had it cut for my type of curls and use product in the shower. Then it air dries and I have amazing curls. When I can’t shower, I had the stylist show me how to keep/manage the curls.” — Amanda W.
  11. “Wet wipes when you haven’t enough energy for showering.” — Jill C.
  12. “Sticky notes! I have to write everything down to remember it. So I keep a pad of stickies and a pen next to the fridge and anytime I go into the fridge I read them all to help jog my memory.” — Bay H.
  13. “I use a slow cooker instead of the [cooktop] or oven. I find it safer and so much easier and I can throw in the ingredients when I’m making the children’s breakfast then nap without worrying. Means even on a very bad day the children get a hot nutritious meal.” — Sam W.
  14. “Keeping a pain/symptoms diary. I use my phone so it’s always nearby and I always show the doctors as proof of things. (I use it daily).” — Tiffany T.
  15. “Two words: Dry shampoo!” — Ciara M.
  16. “A few years ago I turned part of one of my bedroom closets into a dry goods pantry. It makes it easier to get to certain types of snacks and drinks I need often, especially on days I’m unable to get to the kitchen pantry. This pantry hack also is great for making sure to keep up with daily fluids.” — Liliana C.
  17. “Get up in the morning and move my body slowly, lightly. Hip circles, feet circles, arm stretches. If I don’t, I pay for it dearly.” — Lee R.
Originally published: March 8, 2018
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