It’s normal to feel worried right now. Whether you’re anxious about health, employment, the vulnerable, our futures – or all of the above – you’re not alone. Even though, well, technically – you are (as long as you’re observing Government lockdown regulations). The impact of COVID-19 on our lives and our society is indisputably negative. However, it is possible to find food for thought and small silver linings in the middle of the stress, fear and heartache.
From providing our delicate natural world with respite from carbon-emitting economies at full-throttle, to forcing many of us to slow down and take stock; small pieces of positivity have come out of the coronavirus crisis.
For those of us who live with chronic pain, particularly, there are a number of “bright sides” to be found. Of course, at a time like this, there is no cause for celebration. However, if you’re interested in how coronavirus could result in positive changes for those with chronic pain, we’ve identified five upsides which might help you find a little good in the midst of all the recent bad news.
- Are you up to date with government advice about COVID-19? Read the latest guidance here.
1. An opportunity to rest
Although the UK’s brave key workers must remain hard at work on the frontlines of the COVID-19 crisis, many of us are now in lockdown. For some, that means working from home. For others, it means taking furlough. Of course, both of these circumstances come with their own stresses and difficulties. However, they also give many of us an unprecedented opportunity to rest.
In a pre-corona world, life could often feel relentless. A to-do list as long as your arm, endless commuting, work stress, child stress, life stress, social obligations… In self-isolation, some of these demands on our time and energy have disappeared. This has left many of us who experience chronic pain with little option but to rest our bodies. Evenings are spent sitting on the sofa – without the guilt that is often associated with “wasting your time”.
In a recent blog post, we explored the relationship between chronic pain and sleep deprivation. This relationship is a difficult one, with chronic pain often resulting in loss of sleep, while inadequate sleep can worsen the experienced severity of pain. This lockdown period provides an unprecedented opportunity to catch up on your rest. You may now have time to experiment with new approaches to getting better sleep, from improving your sleep environment, to taking gentle exercise and ensuring you get enough direct sunlight.
You could take this time to explore a new diet, a new sleep routine or new supplements, such as our active patches which contain vitamin D and dextrose – ingredients proven to bolster the health of nerves, joints and muscles.
2. Home-working is the new normal
Many of us who experience chronic pain will have had difficult conversations with employers about working from home. In some cases, you may have lost out on work as a result of not being able to comfortably commute and spend all day at a workplace. Now, employers have no option but to embrace home-working, and many have been surprised by the effectiveness of a remote workforce.
During the COVID-19 quarantine, 46% of UK employers have insisted staff work from home. A further 46% have strongly encouraged home-working. These figures stand in stark contrast to pre-quarantine figures.
With employers and employees in the UK now “getting into the swing” of working from home, this new normal has the potential to radically change how (and where) we work, opening the door to more flexible working practices which may benefit those of us with chronic pain. If you’re still getting set up at home, make sure you look after your body while you work – take a look at our blog post on how to create a healthy home working space for some tips on posture and pain management.
3. Recognition for the NHS
The NHS has been battling with severe financial pressures for years. Those of us who regularly engage with our national health service know both how precious this resource is, and the pressure it is under.
Coronavirus has prompted many people to sit up and take notice of the astonishing work the NHS does, even in the face of significant budget deficits and financial difficulty. Each Thursday at 8pm, British streets have been applauding our healthcare professionals as they #ClapForTheNHS, while over 650,000 volunteers have signed up to support the NHS via the GoodSAM app.
Perhaps, once COVID-19 has been contained, our NHS will finally begin to receive the support and investment it needs.
4. Time for mindfulness
Living with chronic pain can be a serious mental challenge, which can result in mental health difficulties. Life in quarantine provides many of us with the time and space to reflect on our struggles and our coping strategies – and to invest in our mental wellbeing. It’s also a uniquely challenging time for our collective mental health, which makes it even more important to look after our mental health in isolation.
If you don’t already have a mindfulness practice, this is a brilliant time to explore how techniques such as meditation, body scanning, yoga and even colouring could benefit you.
5. Increased understanding
It’s not easy for people who have never experienced chronic pain to understand the realities of living with it. Although many people are sympathetic, it’s easy to brush off and largely ignore invisible conditions, which may have drastically altered an individual’s life.
- Carole was an NHS nurse before chronic back and knee pain meant that she had to change her career – read her pain story here.
- Calvin always had pride in his dedication to martial arts and pushed his body to its limit… and now finds himself restricted by repetitive strain injury – read his pain story here.
In lockdown, many people are now experiencing some of the everyday constraints faced by many of us with chronic pain; being house-bound, having difficulty accessing essentials, feeling socially isolated. One positive to be gleaned from this? Perhaps quarantine life will give others insight into the daily lived experience of those with chronic pain – nurturing greater compassion, support and understanding.
Over to You
Have you uncovered any surprising positives about quarantine life under COVID-19? Perhaps you’ve noticed some of the little silver linings on our list. We’d love to hear your thoughts. Share your stories and have your say.