Here are some tips and helpful resources to support you in managing workloads, and your home and family responsibilities.
Pain is a normal, complex human experience. Short term acute pain is very useful – it’s a signal that you need to protect whatever part of your body is hurting. Chronic pain that lasts longer than three months is a different story. It doesn’t always signal continuing harm or damage; it may just mean that the nerve pathways have become sensitised and your brain is overprotecting you.
The degree of pain does not necessarily relate to the severity of an injury or joint damage. Pain doesn’t show up on X-rays or scans! And chronic pain may not respond to standard medical treatment.
We also know that pain, stress, fatigue or depression often make the pain worse and create what can feel like a never-ending cycle of pain.
The four Ps
These strategies will help you manage your energy levels and your pain:
Pacing – Do you do too much on ‘good’ days and spend ‘bad’ days recovering? Pacing is about taking a ‘little and often’ approach, not tackling activities all at once. Know your limits (or set a timer), change jobs frequently and take regular breaks. Pete Moore has some pacing guidelines for you to explore.
Planning – work out what you need to do each day or week but remember to be flexible. Plan rest times, break tasks into smaller chunks and decide what you can delegate to others.
Priorities – set realistic goals and don’t be too hard on yourself. Decide what you have to do today, what you could do today and what you would like to do today but is not essential. Learn to say no, and ask for help when you need it.
Posture – poor posture increases fatigue. Good posture protects your joints and reduces tension on muscles. Try to be aware of how your body and don’t hold any one position for too long. Keep moving!
Another very useful resource is the Habit at Work website, which is an educational tool promoting self-help and problem solving for prevention and management of discomfort and pain in the workplace (or at your home office!).
And finally, remember that our arthritis educators are working from home and ready to offer any advice to anyone with arthritis!