We are fully into summer, the time of vacations, sun, and warmth. But regardless of your summer plans – including long weekends and weeks off – your chronic pain won’t take a break. So how do you manage your chronic pain while dealing with everything that comes from summer? Today I’m using my experience and knowledge of living with chronic pain to help you make the most of it. (Note: I’m obviously not a medical professional, but I have done a lot of research about how you can help yourself.)
1 – Drink lots and lots of water – Get a water bottle and drink from it constantly. Dehydration is hard on everyone, but if your body is also dealing with whatever is causing your pain, then you’ll feel even worse than you need to. It is especially easy to get dehydrated in the summer when it’s hotter and the sun is out more, so don’t forget to drink lots of water.
2 – Set alarms to remember to take your pills so you don’t miss any. – When you’re out and about doing fun summer things, it’s easy to miss taking your medications. And if you go on vacation or out for a long weekend, you might get in the habit of missing a dose or two. Once or twice on most medications isn’t a big deal, but when once or twice becomes most doses of the week, it’s a big issue. I have alarms set on my phone (without sound) to remind myself to take my pills, and it’s a big help.
3 – Don’t over commit yourself – This does depend on the person. For a lot of people (like me), I need to agree to a small number of plans because I am more likely to be able to do them than if I commit to a larger number. Not only that, but if I do too much, it pushes me to a bad point later. For some people, it’s worth it to go to many things and then pay for it later. For others, it doesn’t make a difference.
4 – Find incredibly comfortable clothes – If you’re like me, comfortable clothes = less pain. Even if I can reduce my pain by only a little bit by my clothes, it’s worth it. The great thing about summer is that there are so many great clothes that are comfortable! If you’re packing for a trip, keep this in mind. Here is information on how to pack for a summer trip.
5 – Prioritize summer activities and plans – If you have a particular event that you really want to go to or some special summer activity that you want to do above all else, do what you need to make sure you can do it. If you need to conserve your energy/spoons so you can do that, plan ahead for it.
6 – Budget!!! – Living with chronic pain can be expensive with doctor’s appointments, medications, physical therapy appointments, etc. Don’t forget to include those expenses in your budget, especially if you’re planning on traveling. Then, when you’re preparing to travel, make sure to get all of your medications and anything you use on a regular basis ahead of time.
7 – If you’re on a special diet, stick to it whenever possible – This can be so difficult. It’s the summer, you’re on vacation, you want to fully enjoy your vacation. But if you’re on a special diet to assist your body and it’s chronic pain, try to stick with it. Like with the medications, for some people if you don’t follow your diet for one or two meals, it isn’t a big deal. But if you don’t follow it for a full weekend or the majority of the week, that’s an issue.
8 – Make time to exercise – For most people, some type of exercise helps in some way. Whether it’s yoga, walking, or working out, if you are able to, you should try to exercise to some extent. I wrote an entire post about exercising for arthritis, so if you are interested in learning more about this, that post might be able to help. Again, everything is different for every person and every health condition and I am not a medical professional, but if you have chronic pain, you should at least try to learn about whether or not exercising can help you.
9 – Don’t push yourself too hard – Don’t try to make this the best summer ever only for you to pay for it later. Stick to these tips and you will hopefully avoid inflicting more pain and enjoying the summer. And, last but not least …
10 – Forgive yourself – You’re doing the best you can. If you mess up in some way, forgive yourself and move forward. Enjoy your summer!