Self care is essential for anyone suffering from a chronic pain condition. What self care means to each individuals will vary vastly, depending on their condition, ability, level of knowledge about their condition, and various other factors.
I believe that acquiring and prioritising a regular self care regime is something that everyone should do, regardless of their health. Taking time to nurture your mind, body and spirit is essential for maintaining good physical and mental health. This could be as simple as taking time to regularly exercise, eating well, and dedicating time to a hobby. The important thing is that you make yourself, and the things you feel you need to stay balanced and nurtured, a priority.
When one’s health is compromised self care becomes an even greater need, and certainly with chronic myofascial pain (CMP), I believe self care can be one of the most important factors in keeping symptoms if not at bay, at least from deteriorating / spreading.
My self care routine has developed over the years, and is still regularly updated / adapted to fit my needs at any given point. Some things have stuck long term, and I do religiously, and will continue to do regardless of my CMP as I feel they are of benefit in general. Others I use as and when needed, and some I drop after a while if I don’t feel them to be benefiting.
Here are some of the things that I do to try and manage my condition:
Self massage: I use a foam roller, tennis ball, pilates spiky ball (like my profile pic!), and an electronic handheld massager.
Relaxation: I am a self confessed YouTube junkie, and have found a wealth of great relaxation tracks there. I particularly like progressive relaxation, where you work through the various body parts tensing them for a moment and then relaxing.
Meditation: Once I had realised that it was fine to meditate lying down (some will say it’s not, but I have read many respected teachers say that as long as you don’t fall asleep it’s fine...although I do sometimes fall asleep! But then so do people who meditate in seated positions, so hey ho!), this became much less challenging (my back would get just too sore too quickly to meditate sitting). There are endless guided meditation tracks on YouTube, as well as advice on meditating.
Exercise: I have always been an exercise enthusiast, but since developing chronic pain I have had to adapt my exercise programme as best I can to stay fit, but not aggravate my condition. I still go to the gym, although I don’t do weights at the moment. I have quite recently taken up swimming, and I love the feeling of being in the water, where you body is supported. There is also the added bonus of using the steam room and sauna, which helps ease muscular tension. I am a great fan of yoga, and just a few years ago I trained and qualified as a yoga teacher. That too has had to change. But I have played around with what I do, and still find it to be one of the most beneficial things for my mental health, so very important for me to maintain a regular practice. I now mix in some pilates and Qi Gong, and love the variety of my home yoga-pilates-qi gong sessions Breathing exercises are also very important, but I will get in to that in another post.
I could go on, but I don’t want to bore you! I would however love to hear from you, about your self care regime - What has worked for you? What hasn't worked for you? What would you like to try, but aren't sure about? What are the challenges of implementing / maintaining self care? If you have any questions please feel free to post them too.