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7 'Hacks' That Can Make Mornings With Chronic Pain Easier

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For many with chronic pain, mornings can be one of the most challenging times of the day. While plenty of healthy people may experience a bit of pain or stiffness in the morning, they are often still able to get up and go about their morning routine, the stiffness fading as they take a warm shower and move around to get ready for work. But the morning aches and stiffness a person with a chronic pain may experience can be far more debilitating. It may take several hours of gentle stretching and waiting for morning medications to kick in before it’s possible to even get out of bed.

It can be incredibly difficult, physically and emotionally, when mornings don’t bring those feelings of refreshment they seem to promise. Waking up to intense physical symptoms can be an overwhelming start to the day – especially if you have tasks to accomplish or work/school to attend. To help those who struggle to start their day, we asked our Mighty chronic pain community to share their “hacks” for making the mornings a bit more manageable. If chronic pain makes mornings difficult for you, know you are not alone.

Here’s what the community shared with us:

1. Prepare for the morning the night before.

I always feel a bit better at night than in the morning, so I try to make sure I have a full glass of water and a small snack on my bedside table before I try to sleep. If I’m unable to get up in the morning I can still safely take my meds without having to get up, all I have to do is sit up!” – Laura H.

Prepare things the night before, ex. laying my clothes out. And then I set my alarm an hour before I have to wake up so I can make sure I take my meds so that by the time I wake up/get up, I can move enough to function and start the day.” – Sarah N.

2. Start early, and take your time.

Waking up early so you have time to ease into your morning. That way there is time to get any medication that’s needed and let it set in before you start your day.” – Amy L.

I start my day slow. I drink a cup of coffee and sit with a warming blanket to lessen the stiffness and pain. It takes me two hours to get ready for the day. Taking the extra time makes it less brutal for what I have to get accomplished.” – Jenny W.S.

I do a mental check of my body so when I get up I know what to expect to hurt. I’ve learned to take slow steps so I can assess my capabilities and not overdo before I even leave my bedroom.” – Jean K.K.

3. Do some light stretching or movement in bed.

Gentle morning yoga I can do in bed. It really helps the stiffness and pain by getting my blood moving and warming up my muscles before my feet even touch the ground.” – Kaia H.

Physical therapy in bed that focuses on light activation exercises. The movements will increase circulation to the joints and muscles which will ease them both. It’s also good for Raynaud’s syndrome.” – Brandi M.

4. Cultivate a positive mental state.

Music and tea. Granted, it still takes me an hour or two to get out of bed, but these things still help put me in the right state of mind for the day.” – Sarah N.

Knowing the mind reacts to physical stimuli, I make myself smile and say to myself, ‘Rejoice! This is the day that the Lord hath made!’ It actually works throughout the day, also. Other affirmations, Bible verses, sometimes paraphrased, said to myself when I start to unravel, will calm me down and let me focus… whether to relax, which is when it is really hard, or to make a social or business encounter more civilized.” – Steve T.

5. Keep a soft mat next to your bed.

“A warm mat or heated throw on the floor next to your bed can help when you stand up. Put a memory foam rug or two under it for extra comfort. It helps to ease into standing that way. It’s so cozy in fact I have to shoo my dogs off it in the mornings! Don’t let your feet touch the bare floor. Always step off the mat into good padded slippers. Our feet take a ton of abuse! I’ve noticed if I don’t let them get cold or on hard surfaces barefoot that it stays ahead of the pain for me.” – Brandi M.

6. Establish a routine.

Have routines in place I can follow automatically on days my brain cannot function. Heat, home exercises, ice, etc. after waking to help convince my body it really can move. Prepare lunches evening before, pack bags as far as possible evening before, have breakfast started in slow cooker, or have something that can be grabbed from fridge or reheated. Longer acting medications have been hugely helpful [for me] – take on schedule every eight hours, gets me through the night (in theory anyway), take on waking, then use the heat, gentle exercise, ice, warm shower to help ease pain as medications working on taking effect.” – Chronic Wholeness

7. Ask for help.

Ask for help. People want to do something but they don’t know how or what. Tell them. Help yourself by helping them help you. There is no shame in needing help, we all do at times.” – Ulrika P.

Originally published: February 15, 2018
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