Chronic pain is certainly not something that can or should be ignored. It is the body’s way of letting you know that something is wrong and that you need to look for underlying causes of dysfunction.
Pain can appear suddenly or build slowly over time, ranging from mild and intermittent to severe, and may result from an injury or infection. It persists for months or years and affects your physical and emotional well-being.
No matter what the reasons behind your pain are, you can benefit from many techniques and healthy lifestyle habits, and greatly improve the quality of your life.
Check Your Diet
Healthy eating habits can help you manage pain long term. Here are some tips to improve your diet.
Avoid artificial sweeteners, aspartame in particular, as well as all additives, preservatives, and processed foods. Avoid sugar and caffeine, including sodas, fruit juices and energy drinks. These are highly inflammatory and could be responsible for some of your symptoms.
Stay away from these possible inflammation instigators: nightshade vegetables (tomatoes, eggplant), dairy, chocolate, citrus fruits, gluten.
Eat a varied diet of organic, whole foods, including high-quality protein, fresh, whole fruits and vegetables. The latter are rich in antioxidants, which have anti-inflammatory properties. Be aware that cooking food to above 118 degrees F destroys enzymes and reduces nutrient uptake.
Also, don’t forget about healthy fats! Coconut oil has been found to be beneficial to people with fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, and hypothyroidism. You can also consume healthy and pure sources of Omega 3s fatty acids. These decrease inflammation, joint pain, swelling and stiffness and are natural pain reducers – high-quality fish oil supplements also work well.
Eliminate or strictly limit alcohol consumption. Pain makes sleep difficult, and alcohol can make sleep problems worse.
Eat slowly, fully chew and enjoy your food!
Dehydration may aggravate the symptoms of some chronic conditions, like headaches and back pain. Drink plenty of pure, filtered water that is fluoride-free.
Endorphins are brain chemicals that help improve your mood while also blocking pain signals and are released during exercise. Physical activity also strengthens muscles, helping prevent re-injury and further pain. If you have certain health conditions, you will need to be careful about the types of activities you engage in. Your doctor can advise you on the best physical activities for you.
Yoga is particularly suitable for people living with chronic pain. It promotes both strength and flexibility while calming the mind and decreasing stress. Because muscle spasms are a part of chronic pain, practicing yoga trains your body to relax.
Correct Your Posture
A rounded back, and head in front of the spine – a c-clump – is unfortunately a common sight in our modern society. Computer work, using the iPad, phone or watching TV are the culprits. A bad posture can impair nerve and blood flow, making your overall pain worse.
Keep your head directly above a tall, straight spine to prevent strain on your back and neck muscles.
Deep Breathing or Meditation
Meditation is a technique that helps your body relax, which may ease pain. Focusing on the breath, ignoring thoughts, and repeating a word or phrase — a mantra — causes the body to relax. While you can learn meditation on your own, it helps to take a class.
Deep breathing is also a relaxation technique. Find a quiet location, a comfortable body position, and block out distracting thoughts. Breathe a few times, then, imagine a spot just below your navel. Breathe into that spot, filling your abdomen with air. Let the air fill you from the abdomen up, then let it out, like deflating a balloon.
Stress makes muscles spasm, which worsens pain. Also, negative feelings like anger, fear, depression, anxiety, frustration can increase the body’s sensitivity to pain.
To reduce your stress level and induce a calmer state, you can listen to soothing, calming music. Progressive muscle relaxation is another technique to try – you can find more stress-reducing tips here.
Mental imagery relaxation (also called guided imagery) is a form of mental escape that can help you feel peaceful. It involves creating calming, peaceful images in your mind.
Get a Massage
Massage can help reduce stress and relieve tension. It is a technique used by people living with all sorts of chronic pain, including back and neck pain.
Join a Support Group
Talking about your pain may help reduce its effects. When you’re with people who have chronic pain and understand what you’re going through, you feel less alone. You also benefit from their wisdom in coping with the pain.
Also, consider the benefits of psychotherapy—talk therapy—for chronic pain. Commonly utilized methods include cognitive behavioral therapy, biofeedback, and guided imagery. These may not eliminate your chronic pain, but they can be effective in managing it.
Don’t exclude getting professional counseling if you suffer from depression or anxiety due to constant pain. This can help you learn to cope better and help you avoid negative thoughts that make pain worse, as well as developing a healthier and more positive attitude.
Keep An Active, Yet Relaxed Mind
Focusing on positive activities that make you happy and you feel passionate about keeps your mind busy and thinking about things other than your chronic pain.
When you focus on pain, it makes it worse rather than better. You might not be able to avoid pain, but you can take control of your life