Chronic Pain, Lifestyle Changes, and You

If you’ve recently been diagnosed with a condition that causes chronic pain, you may be wondering how you can manage a new lifestyle without sacrificing everything you love. Take heart knowing that it is possible and that there are many ways you can manage discomfort naturally and without the (over)use of potentially dangerous drugs.

It Starts at Home

The American Psychological Association reports that stress and mood are linked to pain. And though this is a bidirectional relationship, with each intensifying the other, when you learn to manage stress, pain becomes less of an issue. For most people, stress starts at home the moment we walk through the door. Cluttered pathways, empty food containers on the counter, and knickknacks scattered without purpose on every flat surface can interfere with the part of the brain responsible for your ability to focus. And a loss of focus can result in things not getting done, which creates a domino effect that culminates in stress and anxiety.
The easiest way to eliminate stress at home is by simply eliminating clutter. Take a day and remove items that bring no value to your life. Ensure that everything has a place and that the members of your household are aware of where that is. While you’re at it, spend a few extra minutes wiping down hard surfaces and deep cleaning each area you declutter. Replace a few of your less-than-functional accoutrements with succulents or other living plants, as exposure to nature has also been shown to improve stress.

Plates and Pilates

You already know that you need food and exercise in order to live a healthy lifestyle. However, what you may not be aware of is that certain foods can actually increase inflammation throughout the body. Eat This explains that foods such as sugar, refined flour, dairy, and artificial sweeteners cause your immune system to work overtime. This results in chronic, low-grade, systemic inflammation. Inflammation can cause weight gain, digestive disorders, and a host of other diseases and internal imbalances, which, left unchecked, may contribute significantly to how you feel each and every day. Harvard University’s list of inflammation-fighting foods include salmon, kale, and olive oil. If you swap many of the foods on your plate with those shown to reduce information, it is possible to see a significant improvement in your overall health
Living with chronic pain can make it difficult to perform the movements needed for most exercise programs. Jogging, biking, and lifting weights can be tough on the joints and may leave you in more pain. However, certain exercises, such as Pilates, may help you strengthen your core and improve your posture, flexibility, and range-of-motion without discomfort. Fortunately, if you have a Medicare Advantage plan, you can take advantage of the Silver Sneakers program, which allows you to visit fitness centers in your area at no extra cost.

Alternative Therapies

Contrary to popular belief, a diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, or any other conditions that causes widespread pain doesn’t mean a life of drug-hopping to find relief. There are a number of non-invasive interventions that can help. Las Vegas Recovery Center Medical Director Mel Pohl, MD, explains that changing your thought patterns can change the way you perceive pain. When your pain is at its worst, it may not simply be possible to think yourself as pain-free. That’s where pain management techniques such as massage come into play. The National Institutes of Health recently published a highly-cited study that offers data proving that therapeutic massage can cut pain in half. Other alternative pain management therapies include acupuncture, aromatherapy, and chiropractic manipulation.
No matter how you choose to manage chronic pain, diet and exercise along with eliminating clutter within the home are great ways to minimize stress and anxiety in your daily life. This will go a long way toward helping you learn to cope with your new diagnosis. And while learning to adapt is a challenge in itself, living with – and reducing – pain is not an insurmountable obstacle.

Brad Krause

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