Living with chronic pain can feel relentless and overwhelming at times. However, there are self care practices that you can do every day to help you cope with chronic pain. You might already be doing some of these things, while the others you’ll have to be more intentional with. It’s most important that you consistently keep trying to make positive changes in your life for effective pain management and optimum mental health.
Reduce Your Stress Levels
Stress has a negative impact on every area of our lives, especially chronic illness and chronic pain. No matter what the cause of your chronic pain, stress is very likely to trigger flares and make everything worse than it already is. The most important thing you can do is to figure out what’s causing your stress and find ways to reduce it. This might be as simple as leading a more organized life to avoid every day stress or limiting time spent with toxic people.
Wake Up Your Endorphins
You don’t love exercise? Do it anyway! While you already know that exercise is a great way to control your weight and get in better shape, it also helps to promote blood flow that helps to reduce your risk for conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure. A good workout not only makes you sweat a bit, but also releases endorphins, the happy chemicals in your brain. When endorphins are released your stress levels are quickly reduced and your overall mood will be improved.
Exercises helps us to handle chronic pain much better. If it’s a struggle to get started, just accept where you are and go from there. No matter what the source of your chronic pain is, whether it be from fibromyalgia, arthritis or any form of chronic illness, gentle movement is a great way to reduce chronic pain levels. I live with cervical dystonia and my upper back and neck are frequently in spasm but yoga and fitness walks help keep me functioning.
Reduce or Eliminate Your Alcohol Intake
I’ve been sober for over 30 years and have never used alcohol to alleviate my chronic pain. This has been a big part of my drive to live out healthy self care practices. While drinking alcohol might be a temporary fix, it will only hurt you in the long run.
Remember that alcohol is a drug, albeit a legal one. It’s a depressant and can make your mood highs and lows much worse. Not only that, drinking can interfere with proper sleep which is extremely important to those living with chronic pain.
Eat a Healthy Diet
The typical American diet causes inflammation, which definitely contributes to elevated pain levels. At the very least, try to drastically reduce grains and processed sugars. Some people might find it helpful to eliminate dairy and nightshades. If you aren’t able to see a functional medicine doctor, do some online research to get started.
Find a Support Group
Chronic pain is not something to take lightly. It’s life altering and overwhelming. It can contribute to anxiety and depression, possibly even suicidal thoughts. Unfortunately, those around you may not understand what life is like for you and that can be really depressing. If it’s not possible to find a local group, there are many ways to connect on social media. You can look for Facebook groups or if that gets to be too much, you can search the hashtag of your diagnosis on Twitter or Instagram to connect.
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