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  • Writer's pictureShannon Green

The importance of routine in managing chronic pain

I am a person who has always been more successful when I have structure and follow a daily routine. In 2014, I was diagnosed with Guillain-Barre Syndrome. The extreme pain and fatigue from this forced me to follow a routine because energy management was crucial and I only had a few hours of "workable" hours per day.

Those suffering from chronic pain and fatigue only have a few quality hours per day to accomplish even the most basic of tasks like showering, exercise, cooking, and driving. Therefore, pacing activities is crucial to getting more out of life than just managing your illness full time. For many of us dealing with chronic illness, we have to take breaks after each activity to recover. For example, this might mean, walking for five minutes then taking a 30 minute break then walk another five minutes.

I use a large white board to plan out my day and week. I check off items as I complete them. At first, this caused overwhelm when I couldn't complete all the tasks on a given day. I had to learn to give myself grace for my noble effort. Remind yourself that you are doing the best you can at that time.

I try to complete tasks at the same time each day if possible. For example, I wake up at 7am every day without an alarm (had to restore my natural circadian rhythm). I take a nap every day from 1 to 3 pm. I get sunlight or artificial light (use light box and infrared heat lamp) within 30 minutes of waking. I also meditate and practice breath work at the same time every day.

Appointments are scheduled with a max of two outings/day (doctor, store, drop off kid, etc.). If this is not possible, and I have 3 or 4 outings then my recovery time will increase and I will have to spend more time resting.

After suffering for three years, I finally managed to create and follow this schedule. I make time for fun activities like adult coloring books, crafting, shopping, or bubble baths.

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