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For the millions of Americans who are living with chronic pain every day, it can be difficult to find the right coping methods for sustainable living. This type of pain varies in intensity and is described as pain lasting longer than six months, but it doesn’t just have physical effects; it can also be damaging to your mental and emotional health and can have repercussions within your relationships or work performance.
Managing chronic pain can mean different things to different people. For some, it’s about learning to cope with the physical and mental effects the pain has; for others, it’s more about finding ways to combat those feelings and start down a healthier path. Depending on the origin of your pain, there may be various ways you can treat or cope with it. What works for one person may not work for another, so keep this in mind on your journey.
Here are a few tips for managing chronic pain.
Learn to relax
Daily stress or anxiety can contribute monumentally to chronic pain, so it’s important to learn how to minimize those feelings and cope with them in the moment when they occur. Start by isolating one continually stressful part of your life–such as getting everyone ready to leave the house in the morning–and find a way to make it work more smoothly. In this case, you might try getting organized or starting a new bedtime routine that will make mornings easier for everyone. You can also find a new way to relax, such as taking a hot shower before bed or splurging on a massage. Finding these moments throughout your day will allow you to manage your pain more successfully and might even reduce it.
Many individuals who are living with chronic pain find that daily exercise helps them feel better, both physically and mentally. Getting in a workout every day will strengthen your muscles and build up healthy tissue as well as release endorphins that keep you feeling happy and motivated. Consider including a friend or your pet into your workouts for even more benefits; in fact, having a service dog can help boost your mental health as well as keep you motivated when it comes to getting in a workout. For more on service dogs and managing chronic pain, read on here.
Try positive thinking
It’s easy to fall into a line of thinking that keeps you repressed; when you’re in constant pain, it may seem like those feelings will never end, and that can lead to depression or isolation. Try to think positively and proactively instead, such as making a plan for managing your pain. Focusing on your body’s potential to feel better will help you get there faster and will keep you motivated.
Manage your weight
For many chronic pain sufferers, it’s important to maintain a healthy weight, as excess body fat can contribute to pain in its many forms. A good daily exercise regimen in combination with a well-balanced diet should help you stay fit, but it’s always a good idea to talk to your doctor before starting a new routine. Eating more fruits and vegetables and cutting excess sugar from your diet can help you start feeling better in no time.
There are some medications that will help manage your pain, but it’s extremely important to only begin a medication regimen after talking to your doctor. Some pain relievers can be habit-forming or can exacerbate existing mental health or physical conditions. Always take any medication as prescribed and never use a prescription medicine that was intended for someone else.
Managing your chronic pain might be a long, difficult road, so it’s imperative to find the right path for you. Keep in mind that what works for your friend may not be as successful for you, and that’s okay. If you feel yourself starting to get frustrated, talk to your doctor or look for a support group where you can vent about your feelings to people who understand. Having that social connection can really help when you’re unsure of where to go next.