It’s another day, and you’re already in pain.
You try to push through it, telling yourself that you’ll just feel better once you get some work done. But it’s relentless, making it hard to concentrate.
Every movement feels like a struggle, and you’re feeling defeated. You know that if you can just make it through this workday, you can rest later. But right now, it feels impossible.
Chronic pain can be incredibly debilitating, making it difficult to be productive at work. According to the CDC, about 15% of adults reported experiencing pain most days for the past six months. If you’re one of them, you know just how hard it can be to manage your pain and still get your work done.
But with some effort and creativity, you can stay focused and motivated throughout the day. Here are 8 tips to help with chronic pain management when working through the pain.
1. Understand your limits and work within them
It’s important to understand limits and work within them because it ensures that we don’t over-exert ourselves and become injured. Second, pacing ourselves can sustain our efforts over a longer time. Last, it helps us to focus our efforts in a more directed way, rather than dissipating our energy in all directions.
Know your pain triggers and avoid them if possible
One of the best ways to manage your chronic pain is to know your triggers and avoid them if possible. If you can identify what makes your pain worse, you can take steps to avoid those triggers.
I experimented with an elimination diet several years ago and discovered I had a severely painful reaction to raw tomatoes when I reintroduced them. My neck was very stiff and could barely move for about 6 hours when I ate a raw tomato. I only eat cooked tomatoes now!
If sitting at a desk for long periods of time makes your pain worse, try standing up and moving around every 20 minutes. If you know that a certain type of movement aggravates your pain, try to find a different way to do that task.
Create a pain management routine
For many people, managing chronic pain is a daily battle. It may be constant, or it may come and go in waves. It can be sharp or dull, mild or severe. Regardless of the type of pain, it can interfere with your ability to work and enjoy your life. It’s so important to develop a pain management routine that works for you.
There are many ways to manage pain, and what works for one person may not work for another. Some people find relief through medication, while others find relief through exercise or relaxation techniques.
Make time for yourself
When you’re in chronic pain, it’s easy to focus all your attention on the things you have to do which can lead to burning yourself out, both physically and mentally. It’s important to take some time for yourself every day, even if it’s just a few minutes. This will help you relax and recharge, so you can cope better.
Tips for making time for yourself each day
– Schedule some time for yourself into your day: Make sure you have at least 30 minutes to an hour each day that is just for you. This is a time you can use to do something you enjoy or just relax.
– Get enough sleep: I know that this can be easier said than done. But getting enough sleep is crucial. Aim for at least 7-8 hours of sleep each night.
2. Take breaks throughout the day to rest and relax
Most people are familiar with the saying “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” Though this may be true, too much play can also lead to problems. When work becomes all-consuming, it can lead to burnout, so taking breaks throughout the day can help to prevent this from happening.
Go outdoors to enjoy the weather and nature
Spending time outdoors has many benefits, both for our physical and mental health. The fresh air can help to improve our mood and reduce stress levels.
Walking is a significant form of gentle exercise that can help us feel more relaxed and connected to the world and helps increase cardiovascular health. If your sore joints and muscles are weather-sensitive, try to take your breaks when the weather is milder.
Put your feet up during break periods of inactivity
If you have to sit or stand for long periods of time, putting your feet up during break periods can help because it takes the pressure off of your lower back and joints.
When I worked in the corporate world, I would prop my feet up on a stool, ottoman, or even a stack of pillows. It provided much needed relief. Keep in mind to make sure that your feet are at a comfortable height and that your legs are not hanging over the edge of the furniture.
Stretch your muscles before and after sitting down, paying special attention to your spine
Stretching your muscles can help to prevent pain by keeping them loose and flexible. When you’re sitting down, your muscles can become tight and constrict blood flow, leading to pain, especially in your back and spine. To prevent this, stretch your muscles before and after sitting down. You can also try stretching throughout the day to keep your muscles loose. Be mindful to use proper form when stretching.
3. Set realistic goals for yourself and strive to accomplish what you can when working through the pain
Working in pain can be a difficult and frustrating experience. It can be tempting to push yourself harder to get the job done as quickly as possible, but this can often lead to further injury, so it’s important to set realistic goals while working in pain.
Pace yourself and focus on quality over quantity. Don’t accomplish too much in one day and listen to your body. If your body is in too much pain, take a break or call it quits for the day. It’s better to accomplish less and stay healthy than to push yourself too hard and end up in the hospital.
Start by setting small, manageable goals for yourself
It’s important to start small, as accomplishing enormous tasks can be overwhelming, leading to further injury. Instead, focus on setting small, manageable goals for yourself. This could mean tackling one project at a time or breaking your projects down into smaller tasks. Whatever you do, just make sure that your goals are realistic and that you can accomplish them without putting your health or wellbeing at risk.
Make a plan of action and stick to it
When you’re living with chronic pain, it’s difficult to get anything done. Even simple tasks can seem overwhelming.
Start by making a list of everything you need to do by breaking each task down into smaller steps. If you need to clean the house, start by making a list of all the rooms that need to be cleaned. Then, break each room down into smaller tasks, such as dusting, vacuuming, and mopping. Once you have a plan for each task, set a schedule and stick to it.
Create a positive environment for yourself
It’s easy to let negativity take over when your body is in tremendous discomfort. The days when you can’t do the things you want or when the chronic pain is especially bad can feel like they’re never-ending. However, it’s important to remember that only YOU have the power to choose how to respond.
You can’t always control the pain itself, but you can control how you think and feel about it. Whether that means hanging out with supportive friends, listening to uplifting music, or spending time in nature, find what brings you joy and make it a priority in your life.
Each morning, I make a mug of matcha latte with oat milk because it makes me happy! It might seem like a small thing, but doing so keeps my positivity in a high vibe state to help me get through even the toughest days.
4. Delegate tasks whenever possible
It’s important to delegate tasks if you’re in pain. It doesn’t mean that you have to ask for help all the time, but delegating when you’re in pain can help prevent further injury and allow you to focus on tasks that are more important.
There are bound to be some days when you just can’t do it all and this may cause anxiety. This is the time when delegation comes in handy. If you have a project that requires several tasks to be completed, delegate each task to someone else on your team. It’ll help you stay focused and on track while also preventing you from overdoing it and ending up in more pain.
Create a to-do list and prioritize your tasks
When you’re in chronic pain, it’s difficult to focus on anything else. To make things easier, try creating a to-do list:
- Write everything you need to do, no matter how small
- Prioritize your tasks and start with the most important items
- Work your way down so you can stay focused and on track
It can also be helpful to break your tasks down into smaller, more manageable steps. This will make them seem less daunting and more achievable. For example, if you need to write a report, break it down into smaller tasks, such as research, writing, and editing.
Ask for help from friends or family members
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by your to-do list, please know that everyone has experienced this feeling. Whether it’s a project for work, a household chore, or even just a simple errand, sometimes it’s difficult to get everything done.
When this happens, it’s important to ask for help. Friends and family members can often be willing to lend a hand, and they may even enjoy the feeling of being needed. In addition, there are plenty of professional services that can help with things like housework or errands. The important thing is to not try to do everything yourself. Asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness, so don’t be afraid to reach out when you need it.
Source out work to a virtual assistant
Dealing with chronic pain can be a difficult and frustrating experience. Every task becomes a challenge, and even simple tasks can take HOURS to complete.
One way to ease the burden is to delegate work to a virtual assistant. A virtual assistant can take on many of the tasks that you would typically handle, freeing up your time and energy for more important tasks (like a nap). In addition, a virtual assistant can often do tasks more quickly and efficiently than you could so you can get more done in less time.
5. Stay organized and keep a planner to track your progress
When you’re working in chronic pain, it’s important to stay organized. Keeping a planner or some other type of tracking system to help you stay on top of your work can make your job easier.
A planner can help you keep track of deadlines, upcoming projects, and even your daily to-do list. In addition, it can be a great way to track your progress. Seeing how much you’ve accomplished can be a great motivator, even on days when you’re in pain.
Label sections of the planner for specific tasks
If you’re having trouble staying organized, try labeling sections of your planner for specific tasks or goals. For example, you could have a section for work tasks, personal tasks, and even household chores. This will help you stay on track and prevent you from getting overwhelmed.
I love using colorful pens along with pink and purple markers with my to-do lists because it makes my workday more fun!
Use sticky notes on your screen while you work, so they’re always in front of you
One of the best ways to stay organized is to use sticky notes. I have sticky notes around my desk so I can keep my important tasks in front of me at all times. Simply write what you need to do and stick it to your computer screen.
You can also use sticky notes to keep track of deadlines or upcoming projects, which is a great way to make sure you forget nothing important (especially if you experience brain fog).
Identify some goals that are realistic and achievable of completing
Goal setting can be difficult when you’re trying to deal with pain. But, it’s important to have something to strive for. Otherwise, you’ll never feel you’re making progress. If you’re struggling to stay focused, set a goal of working for 30 minutes without distractions. If you’re having trouble getting started on a project, set a goal of completing one small task.
6. Use helpful tools and technologies for pain management
There are a lot of helpful tools and apps that can make your job easier. Consider pain management apps that can help you track your pain levels and medications. There are also many productivity apps that can help you stay on track. And if you’re struggling to stay focused, there are even some apps that can help with that too.
Here are a few of my favorite apps and productivity tools:
This is a great app for keeping track of your schedule. You can add events, set deadlines, and even receive reminders. I have several calendars which are color coded, and I put tasks only on their respective calendars. It’s a great way to keep my mind focused without being overwhelmed by seeing all of my tasks at one glance.
If you’ve never used Trello to track your tasks and projects, you’re going to love it. You can create “boards” for different areas of your life, and each board can have multiple “lists.” For example, I have a board for my blog, and each list outlines what I need to complete. It’s a great way to stay organized and make sure I’m making progress with my projects.
This is my favorite pain management app and the one I recommend for my coaching clients. Bearable allows you to track your pain levels, medications, and even symptoms. You can email your weekly reporting to your doctor too. This app makes it easier to stay on top of your pain and make sure you’re managing it effectively.
7. Take care of your health by maintaining a healthy lifestyle
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is important for everyone, but it’s especially important if you’re in chronic pain. Eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep are all crucial for managing pain. In addition, maintaining a healthy lifestyle can help improve your mood and energy levels, making it easier to stay focused and motivated.
Eat frequently and keep your blood sugar levels stable
Working in chronic pain, both mentally and physically, can be absolutely exhausting. One of the best ways to combat fatigue is to stabilize your blood sugar levels. Eating small, frequent meals helps to keep your energy levels consistent, and avoiding sugary snacks can help to prevent the inevitable crash that comes afterward. In addition, staying hydrated is essential for maintaining focus and preventing fatigue.
Bring healthy snacks to work
It’s important to have healthy snacks on hand in your purse or at your desk. Snacks can help to keep your energy levels up and prevent you from reaching for unhealthy foods. Some of my favorite healthy snacks include fruits such as cherries and strawberries and nuts such as almonds and walnuts.
8. Be positive and stay motivated throughout the day
As I mentioned, one of the most important things you can do when working in pain is to stay positive as well as motivated. It can be challenging, but it’s essential to maintain your productivity and wellbeing.
Remember, every task you complete is one step closer to your goal. As you check items off your list, you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment and progress.
Listen to your favorite podcast on your break
Podcasts are a great way to stay entertained and informed because they’re motivating and inspirational. During your breaks, take some time to listen to your favorite podcast. You may even want to find one that’s specifically about chronic pain or productivity.
Read an inspiring book or article during lunch
Lunch is the perfect time to take a break from work and relax. But that doesn’t mean you can’t be productive during this time. Instead of browsing social media or watching TV, use your lunch break to read an inspiring book or article. It’ll help you refocus and recharge for the rest of the day.
Write what you’re grateful for in a journal
Gratitude is a powerful tool for staying positive and motivated. At the end of each day, take a few minutes to write what you’re grateful for in a journal. It could be anything from your health to your family and friends. Focusing on the good in your life will help to develop feelings of positivity, even on tough days.
As part of my morning routine, I write five things I’m grateful for in my journal because it helps me to appreciate what I currently have in my life.
Reach out to a friend or family member
There’s nothing like a supportive conversation with a friend or family member to help you feel better. If you’re struggling, talk to someone you trust and let them know how you’re feeling. Talking openly about your pain can be therapeutic and may even give you some new ideas about how to cope.
In this post, I provided 8 ways to be more productive when working in chronic pain.
I understand it’s difficult to manage your work life when you’re struggling with pain, but with a bit of effort and creativity, it’s definitely possible.
You don’t have to do all the heavy lifting on your own- there are plenty of people who are willing and able to support you.
If you’re looking for more advice on how to be productive when working in chronic pain, I’d love to help. I offer a coaching program that can provide you with personalized guidance and support. Learn more about my program today!