Maintaining a normal lifestyle while managing chronic pain can leave you in limbo, caught between your need to hold down a job and control the pain that’s an inescapable part of your life. Finding a solution that works for you can take years and leave you desperate to find some level of “normal,” a happy medium in which you’re able to function. Even so, you may be in a situation where existing is all you’re able to do without risking a dangerous reliance on opioids or some other prescriptive solution. Fortunately, there are a number of strategies that are effective in helping you manage chronic pain.
Pain is a reaction to muscle stress and tension. Chronic pain means you need to find some reliable means of relaxing your body. The repetitive nature of meditation, in all its many forms, is soothing to both mind and body. Deep breathing exercises force you to center on your breath and help you attain a relaxed state of mind and control your pain. Some people prefer to repeat a mantra, a word or phrase, over and over until they achieve a deeply relaxed state of mind. It works best if you set aside a still place where you can quiet your thoughts without interruptions. Consider taking a class to help you get the most out of the experience, or pull up some Youtube videos that can get you off to a good start.
Remember, stress can activate a pain response at any time, so look for ways to minimize stressful situations in your life. It’s one of the best ways to manage chronic pain, but it can be difficult. Try envisioning a series of calming scenes, or dial up your favorite form of relaxing music. Try deep breathing exercises whenever you feel yourself becoming stressed at work or in a social situation. It’s an effective, non-intrusive way to keep your pain under control without being too obvious about it. Stay away from caffeinated and alcoholic drinks and stop smoking, which can contribute to your stress.
Regular exercise is an excellent way to engage your brain in the management of chronic pain. Exercise activates pleasure-inducing endorphins in your brain that make you feel good. It also strengthens your musculature and strengthens your heart, but you need to be careful about the kind of exercise you do. Check with your doctor before beginning an exercise regimen. He or she may be able to recommend an alternative that won’t aggravate your condition. Try not to overdo it in the beginning, and stretch out thoroughly after you exercise.
Weight management and eating a healthy, balanced diet can help you avoid physical problems that contribute to stress and pain. Try an anti-inflammatory diet, which removes toxins that cause inflammation and initiate pain responses in the body. Emphasize vegetables (green and otherwise), limit dairy, eat whole grains, and eliminate red meat. If you suffer from extreme chronic pain, try a diet with zero carbs, red meat, or dairy products.
Try distracting yourself from pain by engaging in activities that you enjoy doing, and which involve your mind totally. For some people, that means reading a book or doing genealogical research. For others, it could be scrapbooking or some other much-loved hobby.
Prescription Drug Abuse
Abuse of prescription drugs has become a nationwide epidemic. Unfortunately, when people with chronic pain feel like they have no other option, addiction is often the result. If you believe you may have a problem with prescription medication, reach out to the National Addiction Institute at 844-889-8140. The Alliance for Balanced Pain Management and the American Academy of Pain Medicine are other good resources.
Chronic pain management is an ongoing struggle for many people. Leading a balanced life and exercising mental discipline can help you maintain a fulfilling and rewarding lifestyle. If medication is the best route for you, make sure you understand the risks of opioids. And always consult with your physician before committing to a prescriptive treatment regimen.