Life comes with aches and pains of all kinds. If you suffer from chronic pain, there are strategies you can use to make your life more enjoyable.
Breathing techniques: Meditation or deep breathing reduces stress and tension, leading to pain reduction. Try a repetitive routine of breathing in and out slowly. Repeat a short mantra to focus your mind in addition to your body.
Reduce stress: Your body is more aware of pain when stressed, depressed, or anxious. Remove stressors from your life by getting tasks done instead of worrying about them. Try soothing music or relaxation tapes to clear your mind.
Exercise endorphins: You body releases natural “feel good” endorphins during exercise. Exercise strengthens muscles and prevents future pain. Other health benefits include lower weight and reduced risk of heart disease.
Reduce alcohol: Poor sleep leads to worse pain. Reducing alcohol will lead to a better sleep and pain reduction.
Support groups: Join others who understand your chronic pain. Share stories, experiences, and tips that work. Being around people who share a common challenge can make everyone feel stronger and less alone. This mental boost of support will lead to a physical boost of feeling good. Reach out to your loved ones as well. They may not being experiencing what you are, but their love and support will go a long way in making you feel better.
Quit smoking: Smoking leads to poor circulation and increased risk for heart disease, cancer, and other illnesses.
Monitor your pain levels: Keep a running record of your pain levels from 1 to 10 during different activities on a daily basis. Your doctor can help you interpret this data to make lifestyle changes that will reduce your pain.
Use biofeedback: This body regulation technique can help you manage your pain naturally. Body sensors allow you to visualize and hear the rhythms of your body functions. You can interpret the graphs and sounds from the monitor and learn to control your body functions and minimize pain.
Massage therapy: A soothing massage can relieve stress, tension, and pain. It is especially helpful for chronic neck or back pain.
Eat right: A balanced diet helps pain management. Good digestion, proper blood sugar levels, a healthy weight, and reduced risk of heart disease will all take stress off the body and reduce pain when you eat a diet of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy, and low-sodium meals.
Distract yourself: Make time to treat yourself to hobbies or activities you love. Focus all your energy into doing something enjoyable that will take your mind off the pain. Anything from reading to painting to fishing to softball can be a welcome escape for your mind, body, and soul.
If your pain affects your joints and spine, Orthopedics Services at St. Petersburg General Hospital may offer treatments that can help alleviate pain as well. Visit us online to learn more about your options or call Consult-A-Nurse® at 1-888-741-5122 for a physician referral.
Relaxation Therapies (St. Petersburg General Hospital Health Library)
Strategies for Coping with Chronic Pain (Health.com)