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Necks & Backs, Some Coping Mechanisms

Anyone who follows my blog or Facebook page knows that I struggle the most with my neck. I may not have it under control, but I have a multitude of coping mechanisms for it. I thought I’d share some.

1. Swiss ball – if you have one, sit on it and gently lean backwards over it so that your back is laying on it and let your head relax. Good right?! You can also lean forwards onto it. These stretch out your upper back and shoulders which have a big impact on your neck.

Swiss ball
My swiss ball & foam roller.

2. Foam roller – this is a nifty tool that I haven’t yet come close to fully utilising. One good use for it is to put it under your neck and just chill out for a couple of minutes. Your head is heavy enough so you don’t  need to apply pressure or move about. You can turn your head gently from side to side (like saying no) and hold for a time on each side. Google foam rollers for neck and back and you’ll find a few tutorials on the uses for a foam roller.

3. Stretching – I stretch a lot, it’s a natural coping mechanism for me. The ear to shoulder stretch and the chin to throat stretch are nice neck stretches. But full body stretching is great for general fibro management.

4. Yoga – you can really utilise all different parts of yoga practice for Fibro bodies – just see this post I wrote about it. But for my neck I like cat and cow pose, forward bend pose, downward dog pose and child’s pose. If my whole back is being an issue then half legs on a chair (or couch) pose is a goodie.

5. Heat – I have my heatpack every morning, whenever I can in the day and before bed. It’s a favourite. A hot bath or shower is also good.

6. Rubs and massage – I have an antiflamme cream with natural ingredients to massage into the affected area/s which can be useful. The cream and the quiet time massaging the area are soothing.

7. Rest – sometimes the neck and back pain means I need to rest and cut back. This is part of pacing and general management of fibro.

8. Medicine – this is relatively new for me, I have a difficult relationship with medicine, but I am trying to remind myself that if judiciously used, medicine can reduce my misery. I have several lines of defense from paracetamol, to ibuprofen, to a paracetamol/low-dose codeine combination, to muscle relaxants. I very rarely allow myself the muscle relaxants but it does help when my back and neck have gone to custard.

A mix of these combined with general living well mechanisms (exercise, healthy eating, reducing stress etc.) Are the best ways I know to try to cope with my neck and back. Do you have any others?

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10 Nice Minutes with a Chronic Illness

I’m a fan of having a moment of nice in an otherwise tough day. My moment of nice is usually a good espresso, that jolt only caffeine can give me that lasts a fleeting 10 minutes, if I’m lucky.

I’ve had a liberating thought. What if we reclaim our days, what if we add as many “10 nice minutes” as possible?

10 nice minutes with chronic illness with cup and flowers

Here’s a list of the things we could do in 10 good minutes:

  1. Read (book nerd alert, always number one if my brain is not super fogged)
  2. Meditate
  3. Have a cup of tea or coffee and savour it
  4. A hot shower
  5. Lie down with a heat pack
  6. Lie down with a heat pack and a book
  7. Skype a dear friend or sister
  8. Eat a cupcake, or other deliciously good piece of food, savour it!
  9. Lie down with your legs up on a couch (yoga pose for calm)
  10. Watch half of a funny sitcom, or the whole thing and make it 20 good minutes!
  11. Sit in the sun
  12. Sit in the sun with a book
  13. Pray The Serenity Prayer with sincerity and meaning
  14. Read some good, inspiring blog posts that you’ve saved somewhere (like Pocket or Evernote)
  15. Give yourself a good foot rub (bonus with some lavender essential oil and coconut oil)
  16. Give yourself a good neck and shoulder massage with a heating cream
  17. Stretch, gently and mindfully
  18. Read a beautiful poem and just soak it up (I love Desiderata)
  19. Have a snuggle with your dog/cat/fluffy creature
  20. Have a snuggle with your baby, if you have one and they let you!
  21. Some form of intimacy with your significant other
  22. Breathe, deeply and mindfully
  23. Make your art (journal, write, colour, draw, imagine…)
  24. Write a “thankful list” for future reference
As you can see, for me, a lot of things revolve around reading, but that’s because it’s a big passion of mine.

Do you have more to add to the list?