The 'Tomato Playlist' I Created to Help Pace Myself With Chronic Pain

white headphones on red surface
white headphones on red surface

From time to time I try to remember Ice Cube’s excellent advice: “Check yo self before you wreck yo self.” This saying is helpful to me, when I remember to check myself. But I’ve done a lot of wrecking myself recently. I’ve been feeling slightly better, which encourages me to stay up and moving longer than my body can handle. So I came up with something to warn me when I should sit down – the Tomato Playlist.

This is loosely inspired by the the Pomodoro Technique™, where you do tasks in blocks of time. Its name is based on the kitchen timer on the picture. I knew if I set a timer to go off when I should stop doing something I’d just get frustrated, so I came up wit the Tomato Playlist. This is a set of songs I choose that last the length of time that my body has proven to be OK with. What I mean by that is if I’m moving that long the additional pain I experience is not too bad. I turn on the playlist and when it ends I know I need to sit down. (This is also clearly inspired by musical chairs.)

Related:What Changed the Way I Felt About My Mobility Devices

For my Tomato Playlists I try to choose an upbeat song to get me going to start, fun and happy songs for the middle, and a song about slowing down or relaxing at the end. When that song starts I need to start winding up what I’m doing. It also is a gentle end to the up time, reminding me that stopping is taking care of myself.

I’m using them often so I have four I can rotate through. The beauty of this technique is that I can add more songs as my body can tolerate more movement. I can also make ones for the amount of time I can sit up without pain consequences, which is useful for sitting up hobbies (one of which is taking self portraits to promote my blog).

Before I list my songs I’ll mention that this is the opposite of mindfully checking in with my body. I wish that technique worked better for me right now, but my body has started not giving me warning pain until things are bad enough that it’s in crisis – when I’m moving.

Related:Dear Pharmacists, I'm Not a Drug Seeker. I Have Chronic Pain.

The first Tomato Playlist (Pomodoro™ is trademarked):

“Don’t Stop Me Now” – Queen
“Happy” – Pharrell Williams
“Shut Up and Dance” – Walk the Moon
“Mustang Sally” – Wilson Pickett (’cause you gotta slow mustang down)

This one starts with a song that I think really speaks to those in #chroniclife. It’s all about how giving in to doing what you feel like can cause problems later.

“My Legs” – Dragonette
“Roar” – Katy Perry
“Good To Be Alive (Hallelujah)” – Andy Grammer
“Relax, Take it Easy” – Mika

This one has a theme of not letting life get you down.

“Get This Party Started” – Pink
“Shake it Off” – Taylor Swift
“Wings” – Little Mix
“Take it Easy” – The Eagles

This one starts with nostalgia. It ends with a song that might be too stimulating if you think of the lyrics.

“I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” – The Proclaimers
“On Top of the World” – Imagine Dragons
“Best Day of My Life” – American Authors
“Relax” – Frankie Goes To Hollywood

Related:Why Managing Expectations Is One of the Hardest Parts of Being Sick

I think this method could also be great for kids who want to play for X more minutes. Just make sure the songs you choose make you happy.

Read more stories like this on The Mighty:

The Trouble With Being Chronically Ill in the Modern World

Chronically Cannabis With Dr. Michele Ross: Can You Become Desensitized to Cannabis?

The Number Pain Scale Is Too Limited. Here's What I'd Rather Use.