Chronic pain affects millions of Americans each year. But people living with chronic pain know that pain is more than just physical discomfort. It can affect your appetite, sleep, behavior, and even thoughts. Living with pain is tough, but there are ways to manage it to increase your quality of life and overall well being. Read on to discover new strategies for pain management.
1. Use Healthy Emotional Coping Skills
Negative emotions like anxiety, depression, anger, and stress can all increase your body’s pain sensitivity. Learning how to manage stress can provide you with some relief from some pain levels. Take an inventory of your life and see where there are places you can eliminate stress.
Of course, you can’t change everything. Adopting chronic pain coping skills can help you make sure you’re dealing with your negative emotions in a positive, constructive way.
2. Reduce Alcohol Consumption
When living with chronic pain, it can be tempting to drink heavily as a means to self medicate. While this is understandable, it’s not the best move to reduce chronic pain and can come with significant side effects. In addition to being addictive, alcohol can interact with pain medications and make them less effective.
Additionally, alcohol may actually make it harder to sleep. Since people with chronic pain already have a hard time sleeping, drinking alcohol can make it even harder to get a good night’s sleep. For all of these reasons, you should avoid alcohol if you want to keep your pain down and your quality of life up.
3. Share Your Experiences
You can find support groups in your community for people suffering from chronic illness—possibly even the same condition as you. These people can understand exactly what you’re going through to help you feel less alone. They may also have pain management strategies that you can try out for yourself. But even if they don’t, having a place to talk about your pain can make living with pain much more bearable.
And if there aren’t any support groups in your area, don’t be discouraged. A quick Google search will turn up plenty of chronic pain groups, so keep searching until you find a community that is ready to support you. These support groups don’t even have to meet in person. There are plenty of online support groups you can find on Facebook and Instagram.
4. Keep A Pain And Activity Journal
When you’re looking for ways to solve your pain, you’re probably looking for immediate solutions. And while a quick fix is always great, sometimes you need to look at the bigger picture.
Keeping a pain journal is a great way to recognize trends over time. If your pain was bad for a period of two weeks and then suddenly lessened, you can investigate what caused the change.
To keep an effective journal, start simple. Rate your pain on a scale, then write down the activities you did that day, as well as your meals. These can reveal what lifestyle or diet changes you can make to minimize your chronic pain.
5. Realize That You Are Not Your Chronic Pain
If you’re living with chronic pain, you may feel defined by it. But you should remember that you are not your pain. You have the ability to live a full, happy life.
If you need support, reach out to your doctor, support group, family, or friends. Explain your goals to them and see how you can all work together to make them happen. Remember that you are not powerless against your pain, and you can and will find ways to meet your goals.
Make Living With Pain Bearable With These Strategies
Living with chronic pain can be extremely challenging. However, there’s much more you can do to manage it than just taking your pain medication. Use these strategies to help reduce your perception of pain, improve your mental wellbeing, and guide you on a path to overall wellness.
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