Hidden mobility disabilities are challenging to manage because the limitations they create vary from day to day. Also, the continual self-advocacy required can be exhausting. While we can’t control a physical degeneration process or whether or not accommodation is available, we can control the self-care that affects how much activity limitation we experience. That self-care takes vigilance and creativity!
Here are some resources that can help you with not overextending:
- Tips for common situations
- Tips for staying mobile
- Tips for handling the emotional stress of HMD
- Tips for the holiday season
- Tips for air travel
Most importantly we need to be alert to signs that we are beyond, or about to be beyond, our comfort zone. We know from both research and lived experience that, if we push too far or too long beyond our comfort zone, it may take days to recover minimal functioning. We can practice good self-care and also help those who care about us if we develop the habit of assessing ourselves each morning and communicating our “score” to others, using this HMD Self-Monitoring Tool.
Here are some common clues that we are pushing ourselves too far:
- Getting easily irritable with friends and family (due to pain)
- Having trouble sleeping because of joint pain
- Not attending parties or open houses where everyone is standing
- Avoiding activities that involve walking or standing
- Postponing shopping until absolutely necessary
Once we are aware of our comfort zone boundaries, we can find ways to avoid pushing ourselves too far, such as:
- Sitting down to rest briefly before having to walk more than a short distance – e.g., inserting a brief period sitting down in between walking around one’s home and walking out to one’s car
- Sitting down to rest briefly before having to stand for more than a brief period – e.g., before taking a shower
- Alternating standing and sitting when doing routine activities – e.g., sitting down part of the time while brushing one’s teeth or brushing one’s hair
- Interrupting pressure on knee and hip joints by leaning for support when having to stand – e.g., leaning against the wall of a shower stall, leaning on the counter at a store.