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How do you stay productive when you are hurting?

Chronic pain contributes to physical and mental stress, which shifts you in a heightened state of sympathetic arousal and reduces your level of functioning. Chronic pain can also greatly impair sleep quality, which can exacerbate problems with mood, memory, and concentration. As a result, the broad effects of pain can diminish your productivity.

With chronic pain, there’s a fine line between doing too much and too little. Finding the right balance between the two can feel challenging. Compassionately acknowledging your limits today, noticing potential triggers, and pacing your activity accordingly is one of the most effective strategies for optimizing your productivity. Pacing is a master strategy aimed at gradually increasing your activity and level of functioning, while avoiding flares by prioritizing tasks, adjusting activities, setting goals, and being mindful of and accepting current abilities, given how you feel today. In a practical sense, this means listening to your body, maintaining a routine, simplifying your commitments, re-evaluating your expectations, and breaking bigger activities into smaller bite-sized pieces.

Remember to take regular breaks throughout your day and cut out unnecessary distractions. You can try boosting your productivity by alternating between different tasks, using the Pomodoro Technique, or taking microbreaks dedicated to calming down your nervous system. Lastly, take time to acknowledge your achievements–no matter how big or small. By celebrating your wins, you create a positive cycle that motivates you to keep moving forward towards your goals.

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