Living with Chronic Pain
10 Tips to Cope With Chronic Pain
1. Practicing meditation or deep, controlled breathing
Deep breathing and meditation guide the body and mind into a state of relaxation. Deep breathing involves slowly inhaling through the nose (so the belly expands), holding for a few counts and slowly exhaling through the mouth (so the belly deflates). Meditation involves the repetition of a positive word or phrase (mantra) while deep breathing in a comfortable position.
2. Easing stress in daily life
Undesirable feelings of anxiety, depression, anger, sadness and stress can escalate the body's pain response. Reducing everyday stress triggers helps reduce chronic pain symptoms.
3. Finding a support group
Engaging with other people who have chronic pain helps individuals feel less isolated and better understood. Individuals may also be introduced to new coping methods or treatment options by other members in the group.
4. Exercising to release natural endorphins
Exercise releases endorphins, which are brain chemicals that support mood while simultaneously blocking pain signals. Exercise, when done in moderation, can help reduce chronic pain.
5. Keeping a daily journal of pain level and activities
Keeping a daily journal not only helps express feelings and emotions, it also provides insight into chronic pain trends and effective coping mechanisms. Sharing a pain journal with a health care professional helps them better understand how an individual’s chronic pain is managed between visits, which leads to better treatment.
6. Limiting alcohol intake
The consumption of alcohol often disrupts sleep. Because sleep issues are often a symptom of chronic pain conditions, cutting back alcohol intake or nixing the habit altogether can increase the quality of sleep which promotes pain reduction.
7. No smoking
In addition to the many negative health consequences of smoking cigarettes, smoking also causes circulation problems which can aggravate pain levels.
8. Scheduling a massage
Massage therapy can both lessen muscle tension and reduce stress. Getting regular massages can help reduce pain levels.
9. Eating a healthy diet
Eating a healthy diet can help reduce the risk of heart disease, aid healthy digestion, improve blood sugar levels and maintain a healthy weight. Choosing anti-inflammatory foods is especially helpful for individuals with chronic pain conditions.
10. Taking the focus away from the pain
Focusing on positive things or engaging in an activity that keeps the mind busy diverts attention away from chronic pain. While pain may not be fully alleviated, distraction is a powerful pain-reduction tool.