Chronic pain can be caused by a number of things; that’s why it’s so pervasive. An estimated 100 million Americans live with chronic pain every day. However, there are ways to manage chronic pain so it does not take over your life.
It is the number one cause of disability in the United States. Many people with chronic pain feel like they have no control over it, thus leading to several mental health struggles, including depression and sleep disorders.
The majority of chronic pain sufferers believe they will have to deal with their pain for the rest of their lives with little to no hope of ever being pain-free again. For many sufferers, this is true.
Maintain a Healthy Diet
Eating healthily is not just for weight management; it can help control the body’s inflammatory response system. The connection between diet and inflammation takes place in the gut, which contains a variety of different bacteria.
Your gut stays healthy when you eat foods that can be properly digested. Keeping your gut healthy means good bacteria can thrive, resulting in increased efficiency of various bodily functions like the immune system and digestive system.
One way you can keep your gut healthy is by feeding it foods and supplements that contain prebiotics and probiotics.
Outsource Chores when Needed
Being able to take care of your household is one of those responsibilities you may be reluctant to give up without a fight.
While there is no need to give up your independence completely, it can be helpful to outsource some of the daily duties that may be more difficult for you to complete when experiencing a pain flare-up.
For instance, through a pet-sitting service, you can arrange for a dog walker to drop by and play with Fido so you know your precious pooch is happy and healthy even when you’re not feeling well.
Through these services, walkers can come as you need them so you can enjoy playing with your pup on days you feel up to being active without having to worry about canceling an appointment.
Work on Reducing Stress
You can’t eliminate stress in your life. Some stress — called eustress — is actually good for you. However, the kind of stress that is psychologically, emotionally, and physically draining can trigger a chronic pain episode and ruin your day even more. When you have chronic pain, one of the best things you can do is work to reduce anxiety in your life.
- Identify everyday stress triggers by keeping a stress journal. Figure out how to reduce the amount of stress in your life based on your findings. For instance, you can limit your social media use to once a day if monitoring the news constantly causes anxiety.
- When you suffer from chronic pain, exercising isn’t always an option. However, light regular exercise is an important part of stress management. Furthermore, there is evidence that exercising can help reduce chronic pain symptoms. Stick with low-impact exercises such as walking, swimming, yoga, tai chi, Pilates, lightweight strength training, golfing, or even just simple stretching for the stress-reducing benefits of exercise.
- Mindful meditation is an incredibly effective tool for reducing symptoms of anxiety and stress. So much of our stress comes from living outside of the moment and worrying about things that are out of our immediate control.
Meditation helps train your brain to be present in what you are doing so you can be happier at the moment and deal with your problems in a more controlled and constructive manner.
Whether it’s through an app or a video, meditation is the perfect way to clear your mind. Being able to focus is easier if you have a designated space that promotes tranquility.
Establish a Bedtime Routine
Chronic pain and sleep often have a tenuous relationship as many people who experience insomnia. Yet, getting enough sleep is key to managing chronic pain.
Sleeping pills only knock you out — they don’t facilitate a deep and restful slumber. To get quality sleep, you have to establish a bedtime routine that lulls you into a state of rest naturally. Be sure to take your pain medication right before bed to prevent waking up in the middle of the night due to a flare-up.
Chronic pain affects millions of Americans, making it difficult for them to live the active lives they love. While we may not be able to cure every case of chronic pain, those who have it can manage it with lifestyle choices. Pay attention to what you eat for optimal gut health.
Be open to asking for help and outsourcing chores to professionals. Reduce stress in your life through tactics such as keeping a stress journal, exercising, and beginning a meditation practice.
Finally, work on improving sleep with a constructive bedtime routine that lulls the body to rest.