Video: Why Are You Using So Many Bandaids for Your Pain?

We all use “bandaids” in the forms of distraction and avoidance of our difficult thoughts and feelings (emotional and physical) and we often wonder why it only works as a short-term solution and never fixes anything. Then we get frustrated and keep using them, using all that precious warrior energy… is there a better way?

I hope this helps you to keep making the most of it!

How to Navigate Christmas (or whatever you celebrate) with Chronic Pain

The holiday season is a stressful time for most people. It’s often financially draining. Physically draining when trying to attend all of the events. And for many people it can be a lonely time or a triggering time or a time when there is more sadness or anxiety than the rest of the year. When I lived in Toronto from 2015-2020, I spent 1 Christmas with just my partner at the time (and my dog), followed by 2 Christmases with just my dog, followed by 2 Christmases with a friend and his family, and then finally a Christmas with my parents. Last year I was with my brother and his wife and stepkids (and my SIL’s brother and his family). This year I get to spend it with my parents, other brother and his wife (and 2 dogs). I know what it’s like to have a lonely Christmas. I also know what it’s like to have a busy Christmas. I spent many years (including with chronic pain) working in retail and working 45+ hour weeks throughout December, doing a lot of standing and running around. This year I’ve gone to so many holiday events already that even though I feel a lot better physically (and emotionally) than I have in the past, I still notice a bit more pain than I had. How do we navigate all of this?

I’ve had many different types of Christmases over the years (2018)

Emotions: Loneliness, Sadness, Anxiety & Stress
First, I think that recognizing what you’re feeling is important. I’m a big believer in not trying to repress emotions (while also not getting swept away by them). Making some room for this experience is actually okay. You’re not alone in any of these feelings and remembering that is so important. Giving yourself a lot of compassion can help a lot. Also trying to connect with others as much as possible – even if its short durations, or online instead of in-person can help ease a lot of these feelings. If you can muster up a gratitude practice, I find it can be helpful. Of course, reach out to local helplines for support if you’re in crisis. Maybe try this self-compassion/Christmas gratitude practice I released last year.

Pain and Other Symptoms
Noticing your triggers for pain – as I’m sure many of you are aware – is important. There’s no point pushing yourself to the point of exhaustion. Taking breaks and pacing is extremely important, even if you’re “in charge” of buying presents or cooking meals (actually this is when it’s most important). Think about who you can share some of these responsibilities with and ask for help (making room for uncomfortable feelings that may come with it). Try not to schedule too much for yourself in one day and keep all the days with as equal amount of activity as possible. I know that the amount of events I’m attending is actually winding down over Christmas and all of the cooking is shared between myself, my parents, and my brother and SIL. My New Years’ plans are pretty chill – my partner and I are just going to a brewery (just us). Maybe try some relaxation practices throughout the holidays when you’re taking breaks. Something like yoga nidra.

All in all, just doing what is within your control to make this a good holiday and allowing what is not in your control to just be there, without it overtaking you. I know from experience that this is easier said than done. Just keep on making the most of it everyone!

Video: Values-Based Activities – Why Try Yoga?

Yoga has a lot of different benefits for chronic pain and chronic illness and can be worth trying out. If you’re hesitant, I totally get it, I was for the longest time as well.

Keep making the most of it!

Video: What is Spoon Theory?

If you haven’t heard of Spoon theory, it’s definitely a great metaphor for chronic pain and illness. It can help you understand yourself better, and prepare to do helpful things like pacing. It can also serve as a great way to educate your friends and family on what it’s like to have a chronic illness or pain so that they can understand and support you better.

Keep making the most of it!

Video: Psychoeducation – Illness Grief

Illness grief is a type of disenfranchised grief that is common amongst those of us with chronic pain and illness. Loss of who we were before, what we could do, relationships, careers, etc. that are associated with pain and illness. Disenfranchised grief is grief that isn’t well understood by the larger population.

If you have questions please reach out.

Keep on making the most of it.

Video: Wading through the Swamp of Chronic Illness

This metaphor works for any thoughts, feelings and sensations, but I personally find it effective when think about chronic pain and illness. Of course, we don’t want to injure ourselves or forget about pacing. That doesn’t mean we can’t engage in any values-based activities. I hope this helps bring some perspective and hope.

Keep making the most of it!

Video: How to Find Your Values Based Activities Part 4

If you’re anything like me you’ll run into some barriers when actually trying to complete these activities, even though they make your life good and you probably realize it. Barriers are normal and natural. Let’s talk about 4 common ones and how to overcome them.

I hope this helps you on your way to more values based activities so that you can keep making the most of it!

Information in this video is for psychoeducational purposes only and does not constitute mental health or physical health advice. Please consult with a mental health or healthcare professional in your area.

Video: How to Find Your Values Based Activities Part 3

Brainstorming time! I think this is the most fun part personally. What are all the things I would like to do regardless of whether I can or not. It actually can help find the things we can do. Honestly, I would never have considered “colouring” a values based activity if I hadn’t approached it this way.

Hope this help you to keep making the most of it!

The information in this video is for psychoeducational purposes only and does not constitute mental health or physical health advice. Please consult a licensed mental health or healthcare professional in your area.

Video: How to Find Your Values Based Activities Part 2

In our search for our unique, individual values based activities, it can be helpful to determine how well we are currently living by our values in each of our life domains, and which values we’d like to live. I find that taking the time to do this has been really beneficial, especially when I’m feeling out-of-balance, which can happen a lot as a chronic pain/illness warrior.

Keep making the most of it everyone!

Information in this video is for psychoeducational purposes only and does not constitute mental health or physical health advice. Please consult a licensed mental health or healthcare professional in your area.

Video: How to Find Your Values Based Activities Part 1

I love doing values based activities. For me this includes playing the piano, writing blog posts, going for a hike, traveling, colouring, and a lot in between. I really encourage my fellow Spoonies to also engage in these types of activities too! They make life better. But how do we figure out what these activities for each of us individually? It starts with determining what your values are.

Keep making the most of it!

Information in this video is for psychoeducational purposes only and does not constitute mental health or physical health advice. Please consult a licensed mental health or healthcare professional in your area.