Ask Yourself: Does My Lifestyle Affect My Pain?

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Making the connection between your pain and your lifestyle.

Medication plays an essential part in easing your aches, but lifestyle choices can be key to controlling them. Using this guide, take a few moments each evening to jot down details of your day what you ate, whether you exercised, how you slept and ask yourself how each affected your pain. Over time, you’ll begin to see patterns. Maybe that every-afternoon sugar snack leaves you feeling irritable. Perhaps a walk at lunch keeps your back from burning. Print out this page and slide it into a journal you’ve already keeping. And remember, pain changes. Keep tabs for a few weeks to get a real look at how your lifestyle influences your pain.

 

THINK ABOUT: OVERALL PAIN
How did your pain feel today compared with other days?

  • Nearly nonexistent
  • Tolerable
  • Annoying
  • Stressful
  • Horrible
  • Unbearable

ASK YOURSELF: Did I try any new treatments? Have I noticed any new symptoms, new pain, or side effects? Did I see a health-care provider today? Note any special circumstances, such as vacation, a work deadline, or illness or death in the family.

 

THINK ABOUT: MOOD
What is your current state of mind?

  • Enthusiastic, optimistic
  • Happy, content
  • Ambivalent
  • Irritable
  • Depressed
  • Suicidal

ASK YOURSELF: What made me feel up or down today? Did I spend time around people who made me feel energized or depleted?

 

THINK ABOUT: PHYSICAL ACTIVITY
How much did you move around, including chores, errands, exercise, and sex?

  • Very active, lots of daily activity; exercised vigorously for at least 20 minutes
  • Active: lots of daily activity; exercised moderately
  • Moderately active: lots of daily activity; mild or no exercise
  • Less active: moved slowly throughout the day, didn’t exercise
  • Inactive: limited daily activities
  • Sedentary: didn’t move all day

ASK YOURSELF: What time of the day did I feel most energetic? Did I feel better after I was active? Where in my day could I fit in more physical activity?

 

THINK ABOUT: SLEEP
How did you sleep last night?

  • Straight through the night
  • Woke up briefly
  • Trouble falling asleep, woke up briefly
  • Woke up regularly but got back to sleep quickly
  • Fitful
  • Felt like I hardly slept at all

ASK YOURSELF: What might have influenced the quality of my sleep? Consider your bedtime routine, food, alcohol, smoking, exercise, and stress/anxiety, as well as your pain level.

 

THINK ABOUT: FOOD
What kinds of foods made up most of your meals today?

  • All whole foods (fruits, veggies, whole grains, wild-caught fish)
  • Mostly whole foods with lean meat and/or poultry
  • Some whole foods and meat, some sugar or chocolate
  • Mostly processed food, sugar, and meat
  • Fast food, processed food, sugar, alcohol

ASK YOURSELF: How did I feel shortly after eating? What foods seem to make me feel better and which make me feel worse?

 

Originally Published in: Pain Solutions Magazine, Fall 2009
Photo Credit: Rbgspace, courtesy of Stock Free Images

*THIS GUIDE SHOULD NOT BE USED AS A SUBSTITUTE FOR MEDICAL CARE OR ADVICE OR VALIDATED PAIN MEASURES.

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