There are literally millions of Americans living with chronic pain every day. In fact, the US Pain Foundation places the number at around 50 million or over 15 percent of the country.
The issue is a great one, and it has contributed to other crises nationwide. (Opioid misuse immediately comes to mind.)
In the following article, we’ll be discussing some healthier alternatives to what you can do if you’re one of those affected by chronic pain. First, however, let’s talk about why it’s important we do something.
What Living With Chronic Pain Means
Living with chronic pain varies in targeted areas, intensity, and overall quality-of-life. To understand what it truly means to live with it, it’s first important to discuss the common causes. Many individuals experience chronic pain due to source-issues like the following:
- Congenital conditions (like scoliosis)
- Degenerative vertebrae
- Physical trauma (like the kind experienced in a vehicular accident)
- Poor posture and lifting
These issues are very common, and chronic pain is a major side effect. For too long, the US has combated these issues through prescription medications.
The results have contributed to an opioid crisis nationwide. Fortunately, there are better pain management techniques for helping your body deal with these issues in a healthier way.
1. Practice Deep Breathing
Deep breathing techniques are more than hocus-pocus. They force you to relax the parts of your body that may be holding tension, which contributes to the intensity of chronic pain.
To help with your deep breathing technique, you might consider incorporating guided meditation. For those looking at how to live with chronic pain in this manner, there are a number of apps, websites, and YouTube videos that can help.
Want to try it on your own? Just sit in a quiet room with an upright posture, feet flat on the floor, and focus on counting each breath you take until you start to notice a rhythm.
2. Seek Confidants
Connecting with others who know what you’re going through is helpful. That’s why many people seek solace in support groups.
A person doesn’t have to be experiencing the same pain as you to be helpful to your journey. If they can empathize with the emotional elements of your pain, that’s often enough.
Churches and nonprofit organizations are great starting points if you do not have anyone in your circle of friends and family whom you trust enough. Just remember that successfully coping with pain is as much about emotional strength as physical.
3. Eliminate Stress Everywhere You Can
What are the major causes of stress in your life? That stress can be physical, mental, or emotional. Make a list pinpointing the worst stress “offenders.”
Once you know where it’s coming from, it’s time to start cutting those stressors out of your life. Sometimes they can be people. At Other times, jobs or events.
You may not be able to completely eliminate whatever it is, at least not right away. Don’t let that stop you. You may not be able to go “cold turkey,” but you can start reducing the amount of time or energy you contribute to these factors.
4. Cease Bad Habits
Bad habits like smoking, drinking, overeating, or even sitting too much, pose a number of potential health issues that can exacerbate your chronic pain. Not all these are easy to eliminate, but do everything you can.
Use products that aid with this journey if you can afford them. If you sit too much at work, consider putting in for a standing desk or taking walks at the top of each hour. Eating the right foods and staying properly hydrated also are beneficial.
Stop thinking about exercise as an intimidating thing that has to hurt. Start where you are with more frequent movements (i.e., walking and jogging with a purpose, light weightlifting).
Only up your efforts when you feel the improvements in your body. You don’t have to be capable of the things you did in high school. Just do enough to get your endorphins going, and your body will thank you for it.
6. Get Enough Sleep
Sleep is the chance you give your body to repair a lot of the damage it encounters throughout the day. Doing things that interrupt your sleep patterns eliminates your ability to recover.
Consider eliminating the activities that are keeping you up at night. That means you stop staying up late to watch one more episode of that binge-able Netflix series or stop keeping your phone plugged in by your bedside.
7. Create Healthy Distractions
How many times have you woke up feeling rough, but you willed yourself out of bed anyway? Chances are, it’s happened quite a few times in your life. Chances, also, are that you were able to be productive and get through the day even if you didn’t feel your best.
Sometimes the best thing you can do is not think about the pain you’re feeling. It may still be there for you to deal with but if you’re engaged enough in an activity that commands your attention, it can dull painful sensations.
What are some of the things that most interest you? Make a list of hobbies, both physical and mental, and do all you can to participate in those hobbies during prime hours.
8. Monitor Pain Levels
Awareness is key to combating the chronic pain that you feel. Become a notorious documentarian. Note the times of day you feel your worst, intensity levels of the pain, and when it finally subsides.
Try to recognize activities that bring relief. Make time for those. Last but not least, consult your healthcare practitioner or consider getting a massage or adjustment from a chiropractor to deal with pain points directly.
Learning How to Deal With Chronic Pain the Right Way Enriches Your Life
Living with chronic pain doesn’t have to consume you. Putting the tips above into practice will help you reclaim your quality-of-life and get more good hours out of your day. If you’re ready to do this through primarily natural means, browse our natural health services today.