If you are one of the 1 in 3 Americans currently living with chronic pain, you already know there are good days and bad days. A diagnosis of chronic pain can interrupt your favorite activities and make you wonder if you’ll ever get back to enjoying the life you loved before. Luckily, there are some lifestyle changes you can make to minimize your symptoms and regain your life, in spite of your chronic pain diagnosis.
Ask for help
First, find some support. Perhaps you have a trusted partner (such as your spouse), or a friend or family member whom you could turn to for help. If not, you could join a support group. There are many groups out there offering support and resources for individuals living with chronic pain. If you are feeling depressed, anxious, or in need of further help, you could also talk to a professional such as a therapist or counselor.
Work on yourself
Second, try taking baby steps—no matter how small—towards a healthier lifestyle. For many people, this will include some level of physical activity. Yoga and tai chi can be very gentle approaches towards exercising while also treating your chronic pain condition (and any associated depression, anxiety, worry, or other negative emotions).
If you feel too unwell to leave the house, don’t worry; we live in a digital age, and there are several online resources as well as YouTube videos. In this day and age, you can take a guided health and wellness class at your convenience, right in the comfort of your own home! Here is a great fitness resource specifically geared towards chronic pain and fibromyalgia.
Bodywork, such as chiropractic, myofascial treatments, massage therapy, and even lymph node drainage may help manage and reduce your symptoms. Acupressure and acupuncture, breathwork and meditation techniques, and sitting in an infrared sauna can also help ease your pain.
You could also look into ways to reduce your body’s inflammation levels. For instance, try eliminating any foods from your diet that are known to increase inflammation. Instead, substitute those foods with options that are shown to fight inflammation. According to experts, cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli or brussels sprouts, are an ideal option for those of us who suffer from chronic pain. On the other hand, inflammation-causing foods and beverages such as milk products, grains, food additives (such as artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives), and red meat should be avoided.
It’s also important to reduce stress, which creates an inflammatory response within your body and can contribute to chronic pain when you start to feel overloaded. Many of the techniques described above will naturally help relieve stress. Try breathing exercises and making sure you’re getting plenty of sleep and eating healthy.
Another way to beat stress is by minimizing your workload. For instance, some household tasks can be particularly painful or difficult to those with chronic pain. Whenever possible, you will want to keep your house tidy so that it is more manageable week to week. If you become exhausted or are having too many pain flare-ups while trying to clean, consider asking a loved one for help or hiring a housekeeper to assist you.
And finally, you might try meditation, which is proven to help reduce stress and negative emotions. Create a place in your home where you can achieve quiet and solitude. All you need is a comfortable place to sit and calming decor. Then start small, with 5–10 minutes of meditation per day.
How do you want to feel in your life? Close your eyes and picture it. Now, what are you willing to do to get there? By making a few simple lifestyle adjustments, like the ones listed above, it is possible to get back to enjoying your life again. You can do this, and you are worth it.
This article is brought to you by Dr. Goldberg Wellness Associates, where the chiropractors at Wellness Associates in Pittsburgh, PA offer a full array of chiropractic services. Whether you have a sports injury, lower back pain, arthritis of a joint or scoliosis, our doctors will work with you to achieve your optimal health. For more information, contact us today!