If you have recently been diagnosed with a chronic pain condition, it may seem hard some days to accomplish even the simplest tasks. However, there are ways you can safely manage your symptoms and regain a sense of normalcy. Here are some tips and tricks to help reduce the stress of living with chronic pain.
Find The Cause
Minimize your chronic pain by identifying things within your home and work that are triggering it. Excessive use of your cell phone, for example, could poorly affect your posture and irregular sleeping patterns can cause exhaustion. Make sure the seating in your home and office is comfortable and there is adequate natural lighting available. Additionally, anxiety, anger and stress tend to tighten our muscles so keep a soothing atmosphere by indulging in candles and soft lighting or music when possible. Surround yourself with things that inspire and motivate you to care for yourself. Consider getting a pet if you don’t have one already as they are often a loving and healing presence.
Create An Outlet
Adapt other healthy coping mechanisms such as journaling, yoga, meditation, massage and positive imagery. Picturing a peaceful and happy place can offer refuge for the mind, body and spirit on particularly painful days. Yoga stretches the muscles and creates opportunity for flexibility, while meditation opens the mind and distracts from the body. Consider massage therapy like acupuncture or merely writing about your feelings and pain levels in an effort to let go of any negative thoughts. If you have a hobby, don’t abandon it. Knitting, painting and sculpting among other activities are useful tasks in that they distract your mind.
Treat It Appropriately
Because it is such a complex disease to manage, there is “an over reliance on opioid medications in the United States with associated alarming increases in diversion, overdose and addiction,” says The New England Journal of Medicine. While they may be necessary, avoid leaning on painkillers and opioids and only take medicine as it is prescribed to you so you don’t run the risk of addiction. Instead, consider natural remedies such as exercise and heat therapy to quell the suffering. Even though the thought of exercising while in pain may sound daunting, according to Everyday Health, “when we workout, the body produces its own version of painkillers, such as endorphins, hormones that actually increase your pain threshold.” Opt for low-impact exercises including yoga, swimming or cycling that are easy on your joints but will still provide your body with relief. A warm shower or bath and heated blanket also could work to relax your mind and help you to stop focusing on your body.
The right diet and exercise regimen can do a lot to lower inflammation. While red meat and carbohydrates are a big no, vegetables, fruits and proteins or whole grains that are full of fiber are wise choices. Fish oil and spices are also known to reduce inflamed parts of the body and even just 30 minutes a day of exercise can help the swelling go down.
More than anything, don’t let your diagnosis hold you back from enjoying your life, pursuing your passions, and spending time with loved ones. Consult with your doctor and physical therapist often about your condition in order to set up a self care plan that will allow you to be your best self. Make sure you are staying hydrated and seek a support group of people who are also going through the same thing. They may be able to offer you more guidance on lifestyle changes. Also communicate with your employers, coworkers, family and friends so they are aware of what you are going through and can offer support.