Easing the Strain: Tips For Body & Mind


As someone who has been chronically ill for 12 years, I could talk in excess about the number of things I have purchased to ease both body and mind.  I am almost entirely housebound, and as a result, I work diligently to make my home as disability-friendly as possible.

If I had to pick ten things about and around my home that ease the strain of Fibromyalgia and autoimmune illness – these would manage to take the cake:

  • I rented a home with no stairs.  It has made a HUGE difference in my life.  My legs are weak and my knees are sad – being able to walk on a flat floor and access everything easily is a major plus.
  • My Obus Forme bed.  I didn’t realize the impact that a brand-new mattress could have on my health.  Instead of waking up feeling more broken, I feel as though I might have a chance at life.
  • My Tassimo coffee brewer, so that I don’t have to lift super heavy things in order to get my tea and coffee (although the selection for the machine in Canada is getting worse and worse)!
  • French doors which I can open in order to easily change temperatures in the room (as I cannot keep a stable temperature in my body for the life of me).
  • Wrist and knee splints!! How did I live before I had these?!
  • A BIG tub. And a partner to help lower me into it.
  • My S-shaped wooden stick that cost ten dollars at my pain management clinic! It makes it capable for me to work at breaking apart my muscle knots, even in hard to reach places.
  • My Filofax for writing all of my daily symptoms.  Such a great way to track your illness!
  • Hagina Japanese Mint Oil for rubbing on my joints to ease the pain!  My go-to prior to painkillers.
  • The book “How To Be Sick” by Toni Bernhard.  A masterful voice for easing hard feelings that chronic illness can bring. 

I would love to hear about what chronic illness helpers you have hiding around your home!

Article written by Staff Writer, Annie Martin

 Annie is a young Canadian woman struggling with Fibromyalgia, CFS, and autoimmune issues.  She blogs daily at www.fragileannie.com and monthly for The Fight Like Club in the hopes of raising awareness of central sensitization disorders (and hopefully subsequent research)!

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    I’m new to the website but LOVE the suggestions!!

  • having been diagnosed with fibro mialiga three years ago  was vertually bedridden but luck would be withme i found  Lyrica  alas no more pain  my husband of 55 yrs says i skip about like a young filly          val L

  • Michellet612

    Thank you so much for this article ( and thanks to all the people with comments!). This made me realize how much easier I could make things for myself if I just accept I need help or special “stuff” sometimes. There is no shame in finding ways to make each day more comfortable but it is taking me some time to learn that. So thanks!


  • mo

    Great article Annie!

  • Thank you for providing your lists. I have fibro and I am still figuring out what works best for me. I know that putting an ice packet on my shoulders while propped up in bed helps me to get through terrible flare-ups. I will have to try out some things on you guys’ lists.

  • Diane

    This may sound strange, but for years when I’ve been in pain my body craves to hang upside down. I don’t think I’ve gone batty, but my body wants to reverse gravity. Has anyone else experienced this? Anyway, my husband got me an inversion table for Christmas and it’s amazing! Reversing gravity gently stretches everything, especially my spine, and that helps relieve my neck and low back pain. It also stretches all the muscles and tendons and is gradually helping with my never ending knots and pain in my neck and shoulders, muscles that haven’t relaxed in years. Aside from the inversion table, heat makes me feel better. The rare times I have the opportunity to use a hot tub are heavenly. I had to give up my big garden tub a few years ago for a tub/shower combo that is too small for comfort. I also have the heating pads (electric and rice packs), a new mattress with 4 inches of memory foam built into the top of it, and a feather bed on top of that. A couple of people mentioned ergonomic crochet hooks. I crochet alot and over the past year I’ve developed painful arthritis in both of my thumbs, so my husband got me an ergonomic set of crochet hooks made by a company called Provo Craft. It has two types of ergonomic handles with hooks from F to K that screw into each of the handles. They are available at Walmart and cost less than $20. Lastly, my laptop and the internet. I don’t know what I’d do without them. They connect me to the rest of the world.

  • Annie these are all new ideas to me. I look forward t trying some. I’ll share your article. I have
    1) mattress genie that raises the head of my bed like electric bed for fraction of the cost
    2) massage stick called biostick that has rollers on the outside of the stick to gently rub any area I can’t reach
    3) Foam mattress topper
    4) Cotton bedding for temperature regulation, and cotton clothes because people with auto-immune disease are also allergic to petro-chemical made synthetic fabrics
    5) Rice packs for heat
    7) Gel packs for cool
    8) I clean for 5 minutes at a time and I’m kind of shocked at how much can get done in 5 minutes.
    9) I can’t shop, so I buy everything but food and meds online and the postman delivers it. Meds and food I get delivered.
    10) Rollator walker with seat so I can sit after every few steps
    11) my keyboard is on my bed, the monitor and computer are on a desk beside my bed, so my computer work is done from bed.
    12) Klorane dry shampoo spray for the days I can’t wash my hair
    13) Baby wipes to clean skin when I perspire from pain but too sick to shower or get up
    14) earplugs to lower the decibals of noise or phone when I am supersensitive to sound
    15) Aromatherapy, different ones for different symptoms
    16) Speed dial…so great for painfog/fibrofog
    17) Answering machine so I can return calls when I am well enough, not just whenever everyone calls me
    18) My cell phone has alarms set for meds, appointments, TV shows, anything I don’t want to forget.
    19) I often hire teen/college girls to help with errands and cleaning.
    20) Stool with wheels to use in kitchen while preparing foods
    21) shower seat because I can’t stand that long
    22) Clamp on bar for the tub to help me in and out
    23) pedometer to measure how far I walk daily and try to meet my goals, even if I walk in place or on my rebounder.
    24) Almost best of all my prescription pain cream with no scent. It’s diclofenac 7%. It is anti-inflammatory, muscle relaxant and numbing so you can rub out the knots if there are any, or just soothe pain if there’s no knot.
    25) Truly best of all, THE INTERNET!!! My connection to outside my house, to the world, to worldwide friends and the world’s knowledge.
    This is so great that we have a forum to share ideas.
    Bless you all, Sheila (Penlady here at BYDLS and Twitter)

  • Michelle

    I couldn’t live without my DVR, my Kindle & my laptop….along with my cell phone & home phone :-). My shower chair is a lifesaver although I still need nebs after the shower I don’t think I could complete one without my chair. I need my featherbed…..had to move my bedroom downstairs to the first floor to a smaller bed so got a second one :-). I would not be alive without my nebulizer.

    Most important of all the support of my husband, daughters, parents, brother and a few special friends I would be lost.

  • That book was just recommended to me this very morning! I added it to my Amazon Wish List, in hopes of buying it soon. Great list too. I’ll add:

    *Bedside laptop that keeps me in touch with the outside world.
    * Temperpedic mattress pad which has helped my aches and pains
    * My hubby who does everything for me that I can’t do myself
    * Epsom salts and candles for soothing the joints and soul.
    * Black out curtains for migraines and comfort naps
    * Wireless keyboard and mouse, so when I’m in my recliner, I can easily access my pc
    * Toilet seat riser keeps me from bending spine and knees
    * Straws for drinking ease while in bed or reclined
    * Walker with seat for when my knees, legs or spine need a break
    * Cocoa Butter for the outrageous dry skin I get in winter
    * Fun printed PJs to keep my spirits up when I can not change out of them.
    * Shower bench for days of exhausted limbs and joints
    * Quad cane for balance and sciatic pressure relief
    *Journal for tracking symptoms and activities to later share with doctors

  • Fiona

    1) pain killer gel
    2) heated blanket
    3) cold head strips
    4) ipad a must when bed bound !
    5) iphone 4 ! to read emails when stuck on ur front due to pain !!!
    6) a loving partners hugs and help
    7) cushion and back rest
    8) bed laptop tray
    9) moterised wheel chair
    10) driving hand controls

  • Dottie Balin

    Thank you Annie, for sharing your thoughts and ideas. Great article. I will check out all of your suggestions. I’m sure all of them will help so many people. Stay well….:)

  • Elizabeth

    1) My electric matress pad, I even use it sometimes in the summer.
    2) My heated seats in my car, can you tell I am always cold.
    3) My dog.
    4) My bath tub and the bath salts that I use, I use some from the Body Shop that are Japanese salts.
    5) My Keurig coffee maker, like almost everyone said, for the days my fingers do not work.
    6) My great husband whose fingers do work and can help me open things. Does anyone besides me Hate those items that come in plastic so thick that you can’t cut them with sissors. What ____
    7) My journal it makes me realize I am not crazy.
    8) My doctor who always does the “You look great” introduction becuase he has a great sense of humor and knows I hate that.

  • Fran, could you post a link to the ergonomic crochet hooks please? I need something to do and I was thinking of taking up crochet again. Thanks!

  • Love all the suggestions so far. I’ve been debating whether to invest in a Kindle or not. The only additions I have is a shower stool and a crock pot and the cookbook Make It Fast Cook It Slow. These all help me save spoons. Also, hubby hooked a computer up to our large TV and bought a wireless keyboard and mouse so that I can watch movies on line, surf the internet and watch TV while layed out on the couch. He is awesome!

  • Fran

    1) My kids – without whom I wouldn’t manage to do half of what I do
    2) Memory foam matress topper – god what a life-saver
    3) My bath tub
    4) The kettle that I dont have to lift up to pour – expensive but worth every penny cos I’m always drinking LOL
    5) My new notebook – which arrives on Thursday – for the days when I really can’t get out of bed
    6) My ergonomic crochet hooks – so I can still carry on crafting
    7) my new goldtouch keyboard, quill mouse and super duper office chair – so I can carry on computing 🙂
    8) Most importantly – my grandson and my spoonie friends – without whom – life would be meaningless 🙂

  • Niqi

    Great suggestions and i have a few to add

    – herbs and supplements (too many to list)

    – epsom salts and other bath additives that help with the acid build up in my muscles

    – hot tub, massage chair, another willing to massage me… these and rubs all work by tiring out the surface nerves so they stop sending pain signals

    – hypnotherapy – this has been the best therapy ever! not only for pain management, but also to get over childhood traumas which i have recently learned the emotions translated into pain and stress all over my body affecting me years later.

    – supportive doctors, naturopath, and other health practitioners

    – a bell to ring for my children and spouse to help me quickly when needed – very good for getting to the bathroom on time, or for help opening the child-proof medicine bottles.

    – places like this where i do not feel so alone. thank you.

  • My electric bed so I can sleep with my head elevated without killing my back. On a bad day I can elevate my legs as well. In a recent move the movers broke mine, and for two months I slept on a mat on the floor. I couldn’t wait for another one,and now that it here – aaaahh…

  • I love all of these suggestions so far!!

  • Hi Annie,

    I’m so honored that you mentioned my book as something that helps you through the day (and maybe the night sometimes!). I love the rest of your list — everything is so practical. It shows you’re taking charge of your illness. I agree with Fiona: I to need to get back to tracking my symptoms. I’m also going to try to find that mint oil.

    Great article!

  • I need to get back to tracking my symptoms and triggers. Thx for the reminder

  • Annie – Great article! Awesome job!

    I am already checking out a few of these items!

  • Hope Ann

    1. Memory foam mattress topper. I sleep so much better since I invested in this!

    2. Electric bed warmer, with a timer. This helps me tremendously when I suddenly get chills for no obvious reason, and the timer means it will shut off after 2 hours so I don’t wake up drenched with sweat.

    3. Body pillow. Makes it so much easier to get into a comfortable position.

    4. My laptop. Being connected to the world while still in bed means so much to me. Actually, the internet should be number 1. Being able to get anything I need delivered to my house – I can’t imagine how it was to be disabled before this was an option.

    5. My kindle. This was a Christmas present from my mom, and I love it so much! Reading in bed is easier, and carrying books on the few occasions I go out doesn’t weigh me down either.

    6. Walking stick. This gives me confidence on days when my balance is really shaky.

    I’m also very nearly housebound/bedbound, and these things make a huge difference to my life.

  • Roberta

    My husband. He’s been through this every step with me!
    My heating pad!!! Nuf said 😉
    My iPad. Keeps me in touch with the world (and spoonies) & so much lighter than a laptop.
    Twin platform beds instead of ‘normal’ living room furniture.
    My whirlpool bathtub (Dr prescribed!!!) for days when I can barely move.
    My pets. (ferrets, cats, &dogs) They help keep me active even when I don’t want to be.
    Spoonies who know exactly what I’m going through!

  • Lillian

    My list would include (and these are just off the top of my head):
    – my heating pads (electric AND rice/flax seed)
    – chocolate! I know that it can be a trigger for some people, but for me it makes me feel infinitely better.
    – blackout shades (also thermal) – shrouding my room in darkness and letting me sleep super well and keeping the temperatures more constant (the variation can be as much as 5 degrees between the window and the shade during the summer — I live in Phoenix, AZ).
    – choosing a place to live with an outdoor pool and deck area – I live in Phoenix, AZ, and rent an apartment with two wonderful pools. I love to be out by the pool reading, relaxing, and soaking up sun (with the sunscreen, of course!).
    – my neck pillows and randomly sized other pillows – to take the strain off my neck when reading/watching TV and to prop my legs and body in comfortable positions on the couch/bed.
    – large-grip cooking utensils, for when my fingers really don’t want to work.
    – my Kindle (I commented the other day about this item) – although I love all my paperbacks, there is something QUITE NICE about being able to have the entire Harry Potter collection (or Lord of the Rings or … choose your own) at one’s fingertips and weighing less than your average paperback. 🙂

    Hang in there!