Your days may feel like a constant race against time to accomplish everything you need to do. Living with chronic pain adds stress and can leave you feeling stretched thin. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, over 20% of adults in America live with chronic pain. They also found that chronic conditions cost employers a combined $36.4 billion every year due to call-offs. You can avoid absenteeism and improve your health by altering your work routine and approach toward work in general. You need to give yourself permission to slow down and take care of your well-being.
Invisible Disabilities and Guilt
The National Institute of Mental Health reports that conditions like chronic pain increase the risk of depression and are often accompanied by feelings of guilt, helplessness, and decreased energy levels. Guilt and feeling unable to meet personal or societal expectations can lead to the development of mental health disorders. It is vital to learn your limitations and find healthy ways to work around them to remain healthy and optimistic.
Accepting Your Need to Rest
Work, family responsibilities, and school are areas where you need to incorporate routine breaks throughout your daily and weekly schedules. Chronic pain manifests differently for everyone. Some people have constant pain while others go through frequent cycles, which may include periods where their pain is diminished or gone before it returns. For anyone with this condition, it is essential to look after your physical and mental health because stress is known to make the pain worse.
How to Incorporate Self-Care Into Your Daily Routine
There are some steps you can take to incorporate self-care into your daily routine. In the end, slowing down and making positive changes will improve your quality of life. The Missouri Department of Mental Health suggests the following self-care tips:
- Use apps like HabitNow, Calm, and Breathe2Relax to create a self-care schedule and lower stress levels.
- Take several minutes each day to self-validate and celebrate accomplishments.
- Eat regular, balanced meals throughout the day to make sure you get proper nutrition.
- Get as much quality sleep as you can each night. Adequate sleep can lower stress, pain, and increase energy.
- Spend time with loved ones and connect with them.
- Plan in 5-10 minute breaks every hour. These can be broken up into several shorter breaks. During that time, you can practice deep breathing, mindfulness meditation, or relaxation exercises to ease any tenseness in your body.
Avoiding Burnout at Work
Invisible disabilities in the workplace can add strain to relationships with supervisors and co-workers. You might go above and beyond the scope of your duties in an attempt to prove yourself, or you may put in the minimum amount of work because the stress is too high. Either scenario will eventually lead you to burn out emotionally and physically. Your body is already under an immense amount of strain each day due to the pain and any other co-occurring disorders. There are things you can do to make your workplace a more relaxing environment.
Here are a few ideas for how you can slow down at work to accommodate your mental and physical needs without impacting your productivity:
- Pomodoro Technique: This method involves taking a short break for every 25 minutes worked. Regular breaks have been proven to increase overall productivity and give you a chance to adjust your position or do a quick exercise to loosen your muscles. It is popular and can be found on multiple apps, including Pomodoro Timer.
- Flowtime: Work on one task at a time. Write it down or put it into a task app and note your start time. Then work on that task until you find yourself growing tired or distracted, then take a 5-10 minute break. Return to your assignment when you feel more focused. Repeat this with each task.
- Prioritize Tasks: List out your daily tasks based on priority and then work them one at a time while taking regular breaks each hour.
- Progressive Muscle Relaxation: During your breaks, find a comfortable position and then go through each section of your body from your toes to your head and progressively relax them while breathing deep and even. Routine relaxation can keep your body from locking up while working all day.
Resources for Treating Chronic Pain
There is a vast body of research about the types of treatments that can help people living with chronic pain. Below are a few of the approaches that have been researched and proven effective. The National Institute of Mental Health recommends using these in combination with traditional talk therapy and medical treatments:
- Music therapy
- Mindfulness meditation
- Massage therapy
- Tai chi
- Progressive relaxation
Chronic pain affects everything that you do throughout the day. There is a constant knowledge that you have a finite amount of mental and physical energy for the week. You may find it hard to achieve work and personal responsibilities while remaining motivated through chronic pain. By taking frequent breaks, you will become better able to cope. Invisible disabilities take a lot out of you, and you have every right to take necessary breaks to relieve the pain. Everlast Recovery Centers believes in holistic care, and we understand the impact chronic pain can have on recovery. Work in mental and physical rests each hour to keep you feeling energized and comfortable. The change will allow you to be more productive and lower levels of stress. Everlast Recovery Centers is here to help you find a safe, healthy path forward in your recovery. To find out more, call us at (866) 338-6925.