Written By: Jackie Waters
Chronic pain sufferers often look for a source of their pain so they can make changes and reduce their pain levels. For some chronic pain sufferers, making lifestyle changes is one of the best ways to minimize their pain. We share some tips for changing your lifestyle to address your pain here.
1. Reduce Stress
One of the most significant lifestyle changes you can make to impact your chronic pain is to reduce your stress levels. Pain causes stress, and stress causes pain; with better stress management, you can avoid this cycle and manage your pain more successfully. To begin reducing stress, identify your triggers. For most people, stress triggers include work, relationships, home life, lack of healthy habits, and negative thinking. Once you have identified your stress triggers, work to reduce them.
Your home also may cause stress. If your home is cluttered, you have difficulty focusing and processing information, which can lead to headaches and tension. Sorting your belongings and donating gently worn clothing will reduce some clutter and alleviate some stress; you’ll also feel good about donating your items. Organizing your remaining belongings will reduce your clutter even more and create an environment that is less stressful.
2. Get into Nature
Studies show that our environments affect our stress levels and pain levels. In fact, being in a stressful environment elevates blood pressure, heart rate, and muscle tension in addition to weakening the immune system. Because more than 67% of people opt for a natural setting when looking to reduce stress, people with chronic pain need to include being in nature in their lifestyle.
For people with chronic pain, there are several options for making nature a part of your lifestyle. You can go for nature walks, take hikes, sit outdoors, or make a garden. During winter, you should add plants to your home. Making an herb garden for your kitchen and placing plants in rooms you spend most of your time in will help improve your mood, have more positive thoughts, and reduce your overall stress.
Some people with chronic pain also listen to natural sounds to manage their pain. Studies show that music therapy may have an immediate impact on pain; the reason may be that music works like relaxation and guided imagery techniques to strengthen the part of the brain that controls the body’s healing process. Music therapy improves mood, relieves anxiety, and activates the sensory pathways of the brain that provide pain relief.
3. Improve Sleeping Habits
Proper, restful sleep helps reduce fatigue and irritation and your perception of chronic pain. It is much easier for people who get enough rest to deal with their pain than those who don’t. Strategies for getting better sleep include sleeping in a cool bedroom at around 65 degrees, keeping your bedroom neat and tidy, eliminating digital devices from the bedroom, maintaining a consistent sleep schedule, and using your bed for sleep instead of work.
4. Reduce Alcohol Consumption
Limiting your intake of alcohol is important to managing your chronic pain. Alcohol consumption worsens sleep issues, as drinking alcohol within an hour of going to bed disrupts people’s sleep cycles significantly. Chronic pain sufferers also turn to alcohol as a pain management strategy and increase the likelihood of alcohol abuse and alcoholism. Reducing the amount of alcohol you drink or completely eliminating it from your diet is one way to ease your chronic pain.
5. Eat a Healthy Diet
Some chronic pain is alleviated when people manage their weight and take care of themselves. Eating a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables can lead to weight loss that takes stress off your joints and helps you move more easily. Vitamins and minerals in healthy foods also help combat inflammation, which is a source of chronic pain. Most people find that a healthy diet gives them more energy, which prompts them to exercise. Exercising at least 20 minutes a day helps with weight loss and reduces pain and stiffness.
By making a few lifestyle changes, you can reduce your chronic pain. It’s important to take steps to reduce stress, spend more time in nature, get better sleep, avoid alcohol, and eat a healthy diet and exercise if you want to minimize your pain.
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