5 ways to help everyday aches and pains
Do you want to stop fighting your chronic pain and start focusing your energy on living your best life? Get started with these pain-management techniques!
Relaxation involves the use of thinking to reduce or eliminate tension from the body and mind. The more relaxed you are, the more likely you are to sleep and breathe better and feel less stress, anxiety and pain. Relaxation methods can be as easy as:
- Taking a nap
- Using guided imagery
- Soaking in a warm bath
- Reading a book
- Watching a funny movie
- Doing body scanning
- Getting a massage
- Going for a walk
- And calling a friend
Eating nutritious foods gives your body what it needs to run smoothly and feel good. When you fuel up with nourishing items, you tend to have more energy, feel less tired, reduce your chances of developing certain health conditions and feed your brain, which can help with life's emotional ups and downs.
If you have chronic pain, it's important to eat a balanced and varied diet that includes fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, protein and whole grains. Eating foods high in omega-3 fatty acids—sometimes called good fats—also may improve pain caused by inflammation. Salmon, mackerel, sardines, Arctic char, anchovies, trout, flaxseeds and walnuts are all high in omega 3s.
Regular exercise has consistently been shown to be the most important thing you can do to manage chronic pain. It improves the ability to do normal activities; reduces pain, tenderness and fatigue; increases muscle strength; and improves function. Even just short periods of moderate activity can boost your health and lessen pain.
It's important, however, to figure out the right balance between activity and rest for you. Try to find activities that you can do and pinpoint how long you can do them without experiencing a significant increase in pain.
What you say or think to yourself is called self-talk. The way you talk to yourself is influenced by how you think about yourself. Negative self-talk can make the pain and other symptoms worse. On the other hand, positive thinking and self-talk works by changing negative statements into more positive, realistic ones and can be a tool for coping with pain.
Medications and other treatments
Sometimes you cannot manage pain directly unless you use medications or other treatments recommended by your healthcare provider. Medications can be an important part of managing chronic pain, but they cannot cure it. Medications are used to relieve symptoms, prevent further problems, improve or slow the progress of a disease and/or replace substances that your body no longer produces adequately.
It's important to talk to your provider about how long you need to take a medication before deciding whether it's right for you. Other treatments your healthcare provider might suggest may include acupuncture, injections, physical therapy and psychological therapies.
Want to learn more about how to manage chronic pain?
Check out the Healthy Living with Chronic Pain workshop. During the six-week virtual workshop, participants build self-confidence in their ability to manage their pain and learn:
- Strategies for understanding and managing pain
- Short-term goal setting
- Gentle movement and stretching exercises
- Relaxation techniques
- Stress and depression management
- Communicating effectively with family, friends and your medical team
- And much more
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