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4 Tips for Dealing With Chronic Pain in College

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I was lucky enough to make it through college before my chronic pain entered my life. And guess what? I still struggled. So I can’t lie and tell you it is going to be easy.

Studying will take time and energy, being hunched over your laptop while writing a term paper will be painful, and not being able to keep up with your peers as they party every weekend might be disheartening. But you can only do what you can do, and there is nothing wrong with that.

Looking back at my college experience, I can think of a few tips that would have served me well if my pain had been prevalent at the time.

1. Save up for self-care.

Money doesn’t grow on trees, especially for college students. But whatever you have, whatever you are able to save, spend it on soothing things that will help ease your pain, even if it’s just for a moment. For example, if you have lots of muscle pain, treat yourself to a massage once a month if you can. Tip: find a massage school in your area! They often have really affordable prices (around $30) because you’re being massaged by a student who is learning the trade!

2. Don’t bite off more than you can chew.

Too often, students take on a full course load plus one or two part-time jobs plus a handful of leadership positions in campus organizations. Even for someone with no health problems, this kind of schedule can lead to burnout and fatigue. You have to learn how to say no. Decide what you are capable of and stick with it. You won’t be doing yourself any favors by taking on more than your body can handle.

3. Stock up on essentials.

This may sound silly, but buy underwear – lots of it. Doing laundry can be draining for people with chronic pain and illness. And a lot of the time, laundry rooms on campuses aren’t close to your dorm. So hauling things back and forth will be exhausting. Stock up on underwear and socks so you can go a while without doing laundry. This will come in handy – I promise!

4. Communicate.

Don’t be afraid to be honest with the people in your life and ask for help. Whether that means calling your parents or talking to your school’s counselor, you need to take care of your mental health and be open about what you’re going through.

These next few years are going to fly by. So try to enjoy them while taking care of yourself. This is your moment to shine and grow. Good luck!

Originally published: August 2, 2017
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