13 spring cleaning + laundry hacks when you have a health condition

Posted April 5th, 2018 by

Pain, fatigue and other symptoms can make spring cleaning and household chores… stink! We’ve rounded up some tips, tricks and life hacks for cleaning and doing laundry when you have a health condition.

1. Make a plan. Write out your cleaning to-do list (or find a free printable one online) and tackle your top priorities first. Pace yourself, even if it means spreading your chores out over several days or weeks. Think of spring cleaning as spring/summer cleaning – no rush.

2. Set time limits. Chelle Iredale, a writer for The Mighty who’s living with fibromyalgia, knows her cleaning limits: “15 minutes is a good amount of time for me,” she says. “Do what you can in that amount of time, then take a break. Re-evaluate how you’re feeling after each chore so you don’t overdo it.” Try to squeeze in some quick scrubbing or dusting sessions during TV commercial breaks.

3. Become a “no shoe” household. So what, if a few guests grumble? This rule will cut down on dirt. “When it comes to your health, do what’s best for you – not the masses,” Chelle says.

4. Pick products that make cleaning easier. It might be time to retire that ol’ mop and broom, writes Justina Bonilla, another Mighty contributor. Time-saving products like cleaning wipes, disposable dusters and wet mops can work wonders. You can even buy dust mop slippers and microwave steam cleaners these days. Also, shop online for cleaning supplies so you can take stock of your current stash and remember what you need.

5. Make things fun and comfortable. Listen to music. Or a podcast. Or an audio book. Anything that entertains or motivates you will make your cleaning session a little better, Justina says. Also, try to stay as comfy as possible by doing some chores sitting down (such as cleaning the kitchen table or wiping floor boards) and using a padded surface (think: garden kneeling pad or thick yoga mat).

6. Give into the urge to purge. Spring feels like a new beginning, which can make it a little easier to part with old clothes and clutter. Go with it! Less stuff = less work. While you’re at it, ditch some of your baskets and bins where junk mail and unworn shoes pile up.

7. Ask for help. Know someone who loves to clean and declutter? Time to phone a friend! And next time your birthday or the holidays roll around, consider asking for gift cards for a cleaning service or a new gadget (think lightweight or robo-vacuum) that’ll make cleaning easier.

Bonus: 6 laundry shortcuts! The Mighty recently shared a list of 24 laundry hacks for people with chronic illness, and here are a few favorites:

  • Skip the hamper — leave the washing machine lid open and ask everyone in your household to put dirty clothes straight in the washer at the end of the day.
  • Invest in a “grabber” to pick up dirty clothes off the floor.
  • Set a stool or folding/camping chair near the washer/dryer to sit on and help prevent fatigue.
  • Rather than sorting by color, sort into two baskets: one for pants, and the other for tops, socks and underwear — which makes for easier sorting/folding later.
  • If you have closet space, quit folding and hang everything on a hanger.

Got any tried and true tips for tackling chores with a health condition? Join PatientsLikeMe today to connect with others and swap ideas like these!

Share this post on Twitter and help spread the word.


Are we really more likely to cry when watching movies on planes? New study de-mystifies the urban legend

Posted April 3rd, 2018 by

The Oscars have been awarded and spring travel is in full swing, which got us thinking about the urban legend that you’re more likely to cry watching a movie on a plane than on the ground. Is it just a myth or is there more to it?

While celebrities, polls and pop culture have covered the phenomenon — also jokingly known as altitude-adjusted lachrymosity syndrome (AALS) — no true scientific research has studied it. Until now.

An idea takes flight: The study set up

Paul Wicks, VP of Innovation at PatientsLikeMe, studies emotional lability, or uncontrolled crying and laughing, in people with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, or motor neuron disease). But he’s also a frequent flier, and on a trip back from an ALS conference found himself a little weepy while watching Selma on a flight.

“Although I was studying this uncontrollable emotional expression in people with a medical condition, I thought maybe lots of healthy people might have uncontrollable, unexplained outburst of crying in certain settings, too.”

Enter the first scientific study on AALS. Wicks surveyed 1,084 people living in the United States who had watched a movie on a plane in the last 12 months. Participants answered questions about the films they viewed, whether they had consumed alcohol, if they’d watched any movies on the ground since their flight, and more.

The verdict: Frequent fliers aren’t always frequent criers

The study debunked the myth that we cry more on planes (25% of respondents reported crying while watching movies in the air vs. 22 % on the ground, a non-significant difference). Wicks was surprised by the results, but even more interested in some of the other unexpected takeaways…

Top takeaways

The most likely contributors to crying aren’t altitude or alcohol – it’s more about specific movies people are likely to choose on planes. Gender is also a factor, but Wicks says that could be because men are less likely to self-report crying at films. Here’s what else can increase your chances of tearing up:

A lot of it has to do with movie genre, too…

And if you pick these ones in particular, we hope you have tissues handy.

But in the end, it can be really personal, says Wicks:

“One mother reported that they took their daughters to see Wonder Woman and she cried not at the plot but to see the representation of a strong female protagonist for her daughters, and the feeling that her children were growing up with a better social culture than she did.”

Check out the full study results here, where you can also watch a video recap with Paul Wicks.

What’s your experience with crying on planes? What do you make of these study results? Share in the comments below.

Share this post on Twitter and help spread the word