The world seems to be holding its breath, preparing to get back to life. For those of us with chronic illness, disabilities, and compromised immune systems, the idea of back to “normal” can carry complex feelings. What if life before COVID-19 wasn’t actually as accessible as life now? What if our immune systems aren’t ready for what lies ahead? What if the stress of change and uncertainty causes our illness to flare?
The best way I know to counter these types of worries is to get prepared. Here, now, from the safety of our bubbles, in the calm before the storm… let’s channel that spring energy, throw open the windows, and get organized!
1. give your brain a rest
I don’t know about you, but my brain has actually loves the quieter life of quarantine. It has fewer scheduled activities to remember, more alone time to recharge, and zero pressure to think about looking professional. If you’re like me and feeling nervous about your brain bouncing back when the pace of life picks up again, here are some tips:
do some soul searching
What pace is actually best for you? Keep that in mind as you begin scheduling more activities and job responsibilities. Now might be the perfect time to communicate with friends that weekly hangouts actually might be too much for you, or to advocate to an employer that it’s in everyone’s best interest that your needs be met.
set up systems
Having routines and habits in place before everything changes can help create a sense of stability and allow your brain to operate on autopilot some of the time. Think about your morning and bedtime routines. Print out your favorite recipes. Set a day of the week for tasks like cleaning, shopping, or coordinating with friends. Schedule regular times to exercise. And don’t forget to set aside some time regularly for relaxing!
tools to lean on
It’s ok to let someone (or something) else share the load! Many apps exist for helping your brain with reminders, scheduling, memory, and organization. For a more physically tangible reminder system, check out Mighty Well’s new Daily Brain Fog Fix. This beautiful planner pad helps you keep track of appointments, medications, random thoughts you’re afraid of losing… it even holds space for practicing gratitude and self-care!
2. pack ahead for heading out
After so much time at home, going out might feel daunting. What did you used to bring with you to friends’ houses? What do you need for a night out on the town? We all know that moment when you’re running late but terrified you’ve forgotten something crucial. Save yourself the stress — get packed now so that you can be spontaneous later! I recommend a small stash of critical items organized well and ready to go into whatever bag you bring with you. Mighty Well’s Self Care Case is perfect for this. With a wide variety of pockets, and a Mary Poppins kind of magic, it can hold far more than it looks like it should, and keep things organized! I use mine for snacks, EpiPen, my daily meds (organized in labeled am/pm pouches), and whatever “fixers” I might need in the moment: medications for flare ups, braces in case my joints fall apart far from home, and more mundane items like sunscreen. The Self Care Case is small enough to be easy on-the-go, but rugged enough to carry sharps and be thrown into a bag safely.
Got a lot of gear? No worries! Whether you are heading out for a longer day or have larger needs like TPN or infusion bags, the Fluid Motion Backpack is a great choice. Styled to look like a regular designer backpack, no one needs to know that it also carries all your medical gear. Insulated pockets can keep treatments cool, and easily accessible pockets keep your frequent items like phone and keys ready to go. Because we’ve been there, the straps are made to be comfortable for tricky backs and shoulders, as well as to safely ride on the back of a wheelchair.
3. don’t forget your mask!
In order to stay safe, and to feel secure, you’ll want to have a mask with you whenever going out. Thanks to brain fog, that’s not always as easy as it should be! Make sure you have enough masks to always have one on hand — one by the door, one in your car, one in each bag, and then a couple extras to replace those that need washing. The Mighty Well Mask is light, easy to store in a pocket or around your neck, and comes in a biodegradable pouch to protect it no matter where it ends up. Not to mention it is so breathable, antimicrobial, and available in a variety of sleek colors!
No matter what these next few months bring, we got this.
Want more chronic illness tips from people who get it? Join our Friends in the Fight facebook group!