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Chronic pain problems can make you feel as though you will never be able to achieve your dreams. Depending on the level of pain and difficulty in movement you may even struggle to get yourself up out of bed in the morning. The reality of living this way may make you feel as though it is impossible to homestead with chronic pain. We are here to tell you this is absolutely not true. Homesteading with chronic pain is difficult, but it can be done through careful management of your expectations and activities.
One of the toughest realities of chronic pain is that, over time, your mind adjusts to the pain level. Our minds are capable of incredible things. This adaptation is a result of the constant onslaught of signals from the nerves in our bodies. The longer you’ve suffered from chronic pain problems, the higher your pain tolerance becomes. On the plus side, this means that when you’re feeling ‘good’ you feel almost pain-free. However, on the bad side, it means it can become very, very easy to overdue and cause strain that will cause permanent damage or worse pain later.
Managing Expectations when You Homestead with Chronic Pain
Yes, you can homestead with chronic pain, but understand, you may not be able to homestead the way you perceive others homesteading. The most important way to be able to homestead is to pace yourself. Don’t put pressure on yourself to keep up with others who may not have the same issues. Even if you know others with chronic pain problems, their pain is not your pain. You cannot measure yourself against the activity of others because pain is a uniquely personal experience. No one else has your brain, your nerves, or your body.
Managing your expectations of what you can reasonably expect to do on your homestead is the first step. Begin by making yourself a list of what you can reasonably accomplish when pain is good, and what you can reasonably accomplish when your pain is bad.
I manage my homestead by creating a list at the start of every week. I base my anticipated activity levels off of my pain level on Sunday. Because Husbando works weekends, they are often my downtime and by Sunday my pain is at its lowest level. This allows me to prioritize the list and get the most important activities done early in the week and leaves less important, and low-impact activities for the next weekend.
Managing Your Pain so You CAN Homestead
I’m lucky in that my pain is usually managed by OTC medications like naproxen and acetaminophen. However, I also have had to train myself to manage my pain outside of a pill bottle so that my body stays in shape! Homesteading can be hard on the body! In the summer (when pain is lower) I can be found out lifting hay bales and bent over digging up weeds. If my body is out of shape, these can leave me stuck in bed for days with agonizing pain. The Mayo Clinic has a quick list of ways to help manage pain:
- Stretch and move gently
- Stay Active
- Reduce Stress and practice relaxation
- Get Enough Sleep
- Stay Positive
- Stay Connected
- Manage all Health Conditions
A healthy mind and body can help reduce the impact of chronic pain. And when you’re pain is still there? They can help reduce secondary conditions, like depression, that are known to worsen pain symptoms.
Check out more ideas to keep your homestead healthy!
Focus Your Homestead
When you’re first starting out, it’s all too easy to get excited about projects that are just going to be too big for your homestead. Managing a homestead with chronic pain means picking and choosing your focus. You may want all kinds of livestock and a huge garden, but is that reasonable? Or is it better to focus, instead, on a garden large enough for your family and a flock of laying hens to provide eggs?
Homesteaders don’t homestead alone. There are lots of resources you can connect with to fill in the blank spots in your homesteading resume. Don’t place pressure on yourself to build a homestead that you can’t reasonably manage and care for. If you can’t raise goats but want goat milk, reach out to a goat farm and make a connection there. They may even be willing to barter or trade goat milk for chicken eggs, vegetables from your garden, or a hand-made craft.
Look for Help
In our community here in the PNW, I know there are lots of kids that want to be involved in 4H but can’t because their families just don’t have room. If you have dreams of what you want to accomplish on your homestead but you’re limited by your chronic pain, then reach out to your local 4H, to nearby schools, or even post on Social Media and let the community know that you have space that you’d love to see filled with well-taken care of animals. There are kids that would happily house a goat or laying hens on your farm and will handle all the care themselves as they learn proper husbandry. Work it out with them that they’ll pay for the space, not in money, but in deliverables – a dozen eggs every month, a gallon of goat milk… whatever works!
Chronic pain does not have to stop you from living the homestead life you want! You just have to be creative in how you achieve it. By understanding your limits, keeping your body in the best possible shape, and working creatively with your community, you can have a happy, thriving homestead and be an active part of it.