Let’s face it; pain, by definition, is not pleasant. It hurts… and because it hurts we try to avoid it whenever possible. Unfortunately, as we get older pain tends to visit us more frequently, causing breaks in our normal routine, health problems in increasing frequency and intensity, and potentially less enjoyment of our lives in general.
Usually, the first thing we do when we have pain is to reach for some kind of medicine; over-the-counter painkillers, or a prescription if we have it. Medications can have detrimental effects if taken in the wrong quantities, though, or if taken too often. If that’s the case, what other options do we have?
Change Your Life
There are actually some very simple lifestyle changes you can make to reduce pain in your daily life. Please note these are simple changes, not necessarily easy ones, but they are effective. Choosing any of the options listed here can help you feel less pain, and just feel better overall.
1. Eat a pain-reducing diet
“You are what you eat” isn’t just hyperbole; the food you eat has a profound effect on your health. In general, eating a diet rich in whole grains, nuts and legumes, healthy fats, lean proteins, and a wide variety of fruits and vegetables can help reduce the level of pain-inducing inflammation in your body. Avoid processed foods and saturated fats, and eat in moderation. Being overweight can cause painful pressure on your joints in addition to a host of other well-known health problems.
Omega-3 fatty acids can help reduce inflammation as well. It can be found in fish, flaxseed, and fish oil (usually found as a supplement). Resveratrol has been found to inhibit pain at the cellular level. You can find it in grapes and berries.
Turmeric can be taken as a supplement to help reduce the pain of fibromyalgia. Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) can also help; it’s found in soybean and canola oils, meat, poultry, and fish. Vitamin D is also found in fish, and it can help relieve fibromyalgia pain, too. It’s also found in sunlight… so it might be worth your while to spend some time outside.
2. Keep a pain journal
It’s usually easier to avoid a thing when you know how, when or why that thing will happen. Thus, one of the best ways to avoid pain is to keep a written record of how, when and why it affects you. If you feel pain, write it down. Record what you were doing when it happened, or what you ate that may have affected it, or any other conditions that may have contributed to it. No pain today? Write down what you did.
Over time, you’ll be able to review that journal to discover trends and patterns. It can help you identify foods, activities, and encounters that cause or create pain, and which factors might make it feel worse (or maybe better). Use this journal to help shape your daily life with all of that in mind, so you can make healthier, less painful, and better-informed choices. Such a record can also be extremely useful when you visit your doctor.
3. Get better sleep
Your body sleeps in order to recharge, so make sure you’re getting enough. Individual requirements may differ, but in general an adult should get at least seven hours of sleep each night.
Equally important is to make sure you’re getting the right kind of sleep. Fitful, interrupted sleep doesn’t do your body much good. You need uninterrupted REM sleep in order to recharge properly. If you don’t feel well-rested when you wake up, try some of these suggestions to get a better night’s sleep:
- Stick to a sleep schedule; go to bed and wake up at the same time each day
- Avoid napping for long periods during the day
- Evaluate your bedroom for the best possible sleep conditions. Make certain:
- Your mattress and pillows are comfortable
- Your bedroom is dark
- Your bedroom is suitably cool for sleeping
- Incorporate a nighttime routine that helps you wind down before bed
- Reduce your alcohol intake. While it can make you sleepy, it can also inhibit the REM sleep that you need
4. Stop smoking
Smoking has been known to increase the likelihood and severity of respiratory, heart and circulatory diseases and conditions. It can increase the intensity of pain felt by the sufferer. It can also impair the body’s ability to heal.
If you smoke while suffering from chronic pain, you can greatly improve your quality of life by quitting.
5. Embrace the power of distraction
Sometimes the brain itself can be powerful medicine. If your body is sending signals through your nervous system that tells you you’re in pain, what if you just… don’t pay attention to them? With the mind fully occupied by something pleasant or challenging, the impact of pain can often be marginalized or even ignored. Listen to music; play a game; go to a class; do anything that you can invest yourself in fully and then lose yourself in that activity. Studies show that distracting yourself can actually inhibit pain signals in the nervous system.
If you suffer from chronic pain, try some of these suggestions before reaching for medication. Not only may they help reduce your pain, but they can help improve the quality of your life. But if you are still experiencing issues with pain management after trying some of these techniques, it might be a good idea to speak with one of our medical experts. Our team has experience helping thousands of adults manage, stop, and overcome their pains every year. Oftentimes, we are able to do this by reducing or even eliminating the use of medication. This is not always possible and every person is different. The important thing is to take steps toward living the type of life you want to enjoy. Reach out to us today by taking our free online survey or simply calling our main office line to begin.
11 Tips for Living With Chronic Pain
Doheny; 6 Cheap, Natural, and Quick Chronic Pain Remedies
Healthy Sleep Tips
Jenny, Inflammation in Aging: Cause, Effect, or Both?
National Sleep Foundation Recommends New Sleep Times
Pain Management: 15 Easy Ways to Reduce Chronic Pain
Turmeric, Vitamin D, and Coenzyme Q10 for Fibromyalgia