The Mighty Logo

The 'Tomato Playlist' I Created to Help Pace Myself With Chronic Pain

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

From time to time I try to remember Ice Cube’s excellent advice: “Check yo self before you wreck yo self.” This saying is helpful to me, when I remember to check myself. But I’ve done a lot of wrecking myself recently. I’ve been feeling slightly better, which encourages me to stay up and moving longer than my body can handle. So I came up with something to warn me when I should sit down – the Tomato Playlist.

This is loosely inspired by the the Pomodoro Technique™, where you do tasks in blocks of time. Its name is based on the kitchen timer on the picture. I knew if I set a timer to go off when I should stop doing something I’d just get frustrated, so I came up wit the Tomato Playlist. This is a set of songs I choose that last the length of time that my body has proven to be OK with. What I mean by that is if I’m moving that long the additional pain I experience is not too bad. I turn on the playlist and when it ends I know I need to sit down. (This is also clearly inspired by musical chairs.)

For my Tomato Playlists I try to choose an upbeat song to get me going to start, fun and happy songs for the middle, and a song about slowing down or relaxing at the end. When that song starts I need to start winding up what I’m doing. It also is a gentle end to the up time, reminding me that stopping is taking care of myself.

I’m using them often so I have four I can rotate through. The beauty of this technique is that I can add more songs as my body can tolerate more movement. I can also make ones for the amount of time I can sit up without pain consequences, which is useful for sitting up hobbies (one of which is taking self portraits to promote my blog).

Before I list my songs I’ll mention that this is the opposite of mindfully checking in with my body. I wish that technique worked better for me right now, but my body has started not giving me warning pain until things are bad enough that it’s in crisis – when I’m moving.

The first Tomato Playlist (Pomodoro™ is trademarked):

“Don’t Stop Me Now” – Queen
“Happy” – Pharrell Williams
“Shut Up and Dance” – Walk the Moon
“Mustang Sally” – Wilson Pickett (’cause you gotta slow mustang down)

This one starts with a song that I think really speaks to those in #chroniclife. It’s all about how giving in to doing what you feel like can cause problems later.

“My Legs” – Dragonette
“Roar” – Katy Perry
“Good To Be Alive (Hallelujah)” – Andy Grammer
“Relax, Take it Easy” – Mika

This one has a theme of not letting life get you down.

“Get This Party Started” – Pink
“Shake it Off” – Taylor Swift
“Wings” – Little Mix
“Take it Easy” – The Eagles

This one starts with nostalgia. It ends with a song that might be too stimulating if you think of the lyrics.

“I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” – The Proclaimers
“On Top of the World” – Imagine Dragons
“Best Day of My Life” – American Authors
“Relax” – Frankie Goes To Hollywood

I think this method could also be great for kids who want to play for X more minutes. Just make sure the songs you choose make you happy.

This story originally appeared on Taking Charge of My Health.

Getty Image via FabrikaCr

Originally published: July 5, 2019
Want more of The Mighty?
You can find even more stories on our Home page. There, you’ll also find thoughts and questions by our community.
Take Me Home