Patient Blogs | Ankylosing Spondylitis
Making Self-Care a Priority
photo of woman meditating at home

When I was working in the corporate world with bad knee pain, I did things that weren’t in my best interests for my well-being. I sat at my desk and worked for many hours before taking a break when my body was screaming desperately for one.

I’m a high achiever, and I take a lot of pride in what I do. Looking back on that time, I was definitely working hard to prove myself because unconsciously, all of my hard work was tied to my self-worth.

The tenacious drive was there to prove I was a hard worker, an amiable team player, and a competent communicator with the high-net clients we managed hundreds of millions of dollars for.

I arrived early to the office, often before my 8:30 a.m. start time, and locked up the office most nights. Instead of staying home and resting my body and mind from the long week, I went in on the weekends. I did so because my enormous workload was like a never-ending story, and it was impossible to complete it in one day.

But I didn’t have to do any of this. This was a conscious choice I made.

I totally ignored the signs from my body to slow down a bit and ease off the gas pedal. A big part of my personality is that I move fast, just like the Energizer Bunny. So like that cute pink rabbit, I kept pushing through the discomfort and through the pain.

Eating lunch at my desk was a common occurrence, and it was usually spread out over 2 hours because I worked AND ate at the same time.

Fortunately, I kept to a strict gym routine, working out 5 days a week anywhere from 1½ to 2 hours each session. Otherwise, I know my stress levels would have shot straight through the roof into the cosmos.

As you can see, I was very, very, busy.

Today, my days are nothing like the days of old, and I follow a nonnegotiable self-care routine. I'm a self-employed life coach and work from my home office.

Back in the day, if someone asked what I did for self-care, I would have turned around and looked at them like they were from outer space.

I would have probably said something along the lines of, “Self-care? What is that, and are you joking with me? I ain’t got no time for that. I’m too busy. Now leave my desk. Gotta go back to work now.”

Thank the Lord up above that I wised up, because my day doesn’t start without self-care.

Each morning, I follow a routine I refer to as my “power hour,” which includes:

  • Practicing yoga
  • Making a mug of my matcha latte with oat milk
  • Petting my dog Stella and looking into her brown eyes
  • Meditating
  • Reading at least 10 pages of a book
  • Pulling tarot cards so I can connect to my higher self

Any one of these activities sets me up for a great day by helping to elevate my vibration and energy. My routine also helps to keep my brain calm and stress levels low. I’ve noticed a remarkable difference in how I react to events beyond my control (like when one of my kids cooks in the kitchen and doesn’t clean up their dishes).

It all comes down to balancing your inner world with your outer world, and this is crucial when battling chronic pain. Would you like to start a self-care routine but not sure how to stay consistent with it?

Here’s my biggest tip (it’s very simple):

Every day, do something that makes you feel good,and pick the same time each day to do it. Does reading a book wrapped in your warm, fuzzy blanket get you excited? Does making a cup of green tea in your favorite mug put a smile on your face?

As someone living in pain, it’s essential to weave self-care into your day. Listen, I really don’t care how or what you do when it comes to self-care.

Just do it (#sorrynotsorry Nike, I couldn’t resist).


Photo Credit: miniseries / E+ via Getty Images

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Lovaine Cohen

Lovaine Cohen

Diagnosed since 2001

Lovaine Cohen has lived with ankylosing spondylitis for over 20 years. A chronic pain coach, Lovaine helps women reduce pain with her Holistic Healing Method program and shares pain management and anxiety tips on her blog and on Instagram. Her loves include her two children in their early 20s, a rescue husky named Stella, and her husband of 28 years. Connect with Lovaine on Instagram.

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