Living with Chronic Pain: 10 Healthy Ways to Manage Your Pain
If you suffer from chronic pain, you’re not alone. In fact, about 20 percent of adults in the US suffer from chronic pain, and 8 percent suffer from high-impact chronic pain.
If you’re living with chronic pain, you know that the physical toll it takes on your body is only a part of the problem. Chronic pain can also affect your mental health, your social life, and it can zap your energy levels.
Luckily, there are plenty of strategies out there that can help you manage your chronic pain so you can live a healthy, fulfilling life.
Check out this guide to discover the top healthy ways to manage chronic pain.
1. Practice Breathing Techniques
When your pain levels spike, it’s very important to have a breathing technique in place to help you manage not only your pain but the stress levels that come along with that pain.
Although there are many ways to meditate, one of the simplest and most effective ways to release tension is to focus on the soothing power of repetition. This can be as simple as breathing in for 5 counts and breathing out for 5 counts.
Also, when you’re doing this, try to focus only on the breathing, and ignore any other thoughts that are entering your head.
Another breathing technique to try involves placing your hand on your abdomen, then taking a deep breath in, and then releasing the breath. As you breathe in and out, feel how your abdomen expands and contracts like a balloon.
While you can practice these breathing techniques on your own, it can sometimes be helpful to take a class. If you can’t find any meditation classes in your area, there are plenty of Youtube tutorials and apps out there that focus on teaching meditation and deep breathing techniques.
2. Stick to an Anti-Inflammatory Diet
Pain often stems from inflammation, which is why it can be very helpful to stick to an anti-inflammatory diet.
Here are some of the top foods to eat that have anti-inflammatory properties:
- Fatty fish (like mackerel, sardines, herring, anchovies, and salmon)
- Green tea
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Dark chocolate
In addition to incorporating these foods into your diet, you should also avoid substances that cause inflammation, such as alcohol and tobacco.
3. Reduce Stress in Your Life
Negative feelings like anxiety, depression, stress, and anger can all increase the body’s sensitivity to pain.
By learning to take control of these emotions and stress in general, you may be able to relieve some of your chronic pain.
Here are some activities to try when you’re feeling down, anxious, stressed, or angry:
- Listening to music
- Getting a massage
- Reading a book
- Painting or drawing
We all go through bouts of sadness and stress, however, there’s a chance that if you experience sadness and stress often, you may be suffering from a mental illness.
If this is the case, then you need to talk to your doctor about getting on medication or starting therapy. Chances are, if you treat your mental illness, you may also become better at managing your chronic pain.
4. Join a Support Group
As we mentioned at the beginning of the article, there are a lot of people out there who are also trying to manage their chronic pain.
While everyone experiences pain differently, engaging with other pain sufferers can serve as a therapeutic outlet. This is especially the case if you don’t have any other family members or friends who are going through the same thing that you are.
By joining a support group, you’ll feel less alone in your pain and you’ll feel like you have a group of people you can talk to who really understand what you’re going through.
Many people who experience chronic pain steer clear of exercise because they think it’ll only exacerbate their symptoms.
However, the truth is, exercise can actually help relieve chronic pain.
For one thing, exercise helps to strengthen your muscles and prevent re-injuring any weak areas. It can also help boost your mood, keep your weight down, control your blood sugar levels, reduce your risk of developing heart disease, and much more.
The best thing to do is to talk to your doctor about an exercise routine that is right for you. For example, if you experience chronic pain in your knees, then you may not be able to run on the treadmill. However, you may find that swimming and pilates are the perfect exercises for you.
In general, you should aim to get 30 minutes of moderate exercise 5 times per week.
6. Consider Taking CBD
There’s a lot of buzz out there about CBD these days, and many people are viewing it as the new miracle drug.
While CBD may not be able to work miracles, it can help you manage your chronic pain. In fact, one study published in the European Journal of Pain found that when CBD is applied to the skin, it can help lower inflammation and pain caused by arthritis.
However, in order for CBD to help you with your pain, you need to make sure you’re buying the right stuff. Only buy your CBD from trusted sources, such as this CBD online store.
Also, another important thing to note about CBD is that it does not have any psychoactive properties, aka, it doesn’t get you high. If you like the high feeling that marijuana brings, then you’ll want to look for CBD products that also have THC them. If you want to avoid the high, then only choose products without THC.
7. Keep a Daily Journal
As we mentioned earlier, keeping a daily journal is a great way to relieve stress and take your mind off your pain.
However, this isn’t the only reason that you should keep a daily journal.
Keeping a daily journal can also help you track your pain levels and activities. By doing this, you may start to realize trends in your chronic pain. Or, you may start to realize certain coping mechanisms that work better than others.
When tracking your pain levels, be sure to be consistent about it. Try to journal at the same time each day, and develop a scale for describing your pain levels.
It’s also a good idea to share this journal with your doctor, as it can also better help them get down to the root cause of your pain and therefore prescribe the right treatment plan.
8. Don’t Overdo it on the Good Days
When you have a good day where your pain levels are almost non-existent, it can be tempting to spring out of bed, hit the gym hard, and really push your body to its limits.
However, this is a recipe for disaster later on. This may cause you to aggravate the source of pain, and that one good day will then be followed by several bad days.
While you should certainly take advantage of the good days, be careful not to overdo it.
9. Find Ways to Distract Yourself From the Pain
The more you focus on your pain, the worse you’re going to feel about it.
So, sometimes the best thing to do to manage your pain is to ignore it. Instead of dwelling on it, start doing something that you enjoy. This might mean watching a movie, reading a book, grabbing coffee with a friend, or playing with your dog.
While you obviously shouldn’t ignore your chronic pain completely, sometimes, taking a small break from thinking about it can make a world of a difference.
10. Set Realistic Goals
When managing chronic pain, it’s very important that you set realistic goals for yourself.
This way, you won’t get stuck in a routine of moping around over your pain and doing nothing about it.
But, remember to make these goals realistic, otherwise, you’ll have no motivation to reach them.
For example, a realistic goal could involve walking your dog each day, extending your walking sessions on the treadmill, or making it to all of your physical therapy appointments.
Whatever your goal is, it’s important that you define it early on so that you have something to strive for in terms of pain management.
Living With Chronic Pain: Are You Ready to Turn Things Around?
Now that you have these tips for living with chronic pain, it’s time to put them into action.
Remember, incorporating these tips into your life will take time, so you can’t expect to change your life around overnight. However, as you start to incorporate these tips one by one, you should slowly start to notice differences in your chronic pain.
Also, if you liked this blog post, be sure to check back in for more health-related tips and tricks.