3 things you can do today to live better with pain
1. Improve your sleep hygiene
Sleep is very important if you want to manage your pain better. Sleep and rest calm the nerves and can reduce the inflammation that occurs when you experience persistent pain. A good night’s rest will also help you feel refreshed in the morning and can help you keep mentally strong. Here are some tips that may help;
- Create a healthy sleeping routine – wake up and go to sleep at the same time each day
- Exercise 20 to 30 minutes a day – but not too close to bedtime
- Try not to have drinks with caffeine before bed and avoid smoking and drinking alcohol before bed too. Instead, you could have a cup of herbal tea, like camomile
- Make it a priority to relax before going to bed – you could enjoy reading, soothing music, practicing meditation or having a warm bath
- Be intentional about creating a calm and relaxed place for sleeping – lower the lights, keep the room at a comfortable temperature
2. Improve your nutrition
Eating well can be challenging when living with chronic pain. You may be living alone or find your condition limits or stops you from being able to prepare your own food. Being in pain may also leave you feeling tired and lacking the motivation to eat a proper meal. Yet eating the foods that will fuel our bodies is an important step to improving quality of life while in pain.
Some foods can contribute to increases in inflammation and worsen pain and should therefore be minimised. These include foods with high amounts of:
- Refined sugar
- Fried foods (high in omega 6 fatty acids)
- Processed meats
- Trans-fats (which promote unhealthy weight such as doughnuts, cookies, crackers, pies, and cakes)
- Alcohol, which irritates the stomach, affects liver function, and may also contribute to weight gain
You may find yourself craving sugary foods to get you through the day, yet what will give you the most energy are foods that release energy slowly into your blood stream.
Include these foods in your diet:
- fresh fruits and vegetables
- complex carbohydrates (grains and wholemeal)
- good quality protein
The above foods have a higher nutrient content, such as vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, that all help the body to produce more pain-relieving chemicals.
Each little step you make toward a healthier diet, will leave you with more energy and feeling better about yourself. You may be surprised the difference it can make to your pain
3. Implement healthy thinking to cope with pain
Pain can affect the way we feel. It can leave us feeling lonely, upset, angry and frustrated. The way we feel can affect our thoughts too, which can affect our experience of pain in an unhelpful way.
Having a positive mindset can help support you to feel more energised and encourage you to take steps towards feeling better.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Find things that you feel able to do and that you enjoy. For example, give a friend a call once a day, who will encourage and listen to you. It is important to stay connected.
- Give yourself a ‘pat on the back’ and reward yourself for the good things that you do for yourself. Celebrate even the smallest efforts.
- Put in time to focus on yourself. Plan time to do something for your own joy to keep your spirits high.
- Practice relaxation techniques, breathing techniques, positive affirmations and keep focused on what you CAN do or TRY next.
Being intentional about trying and doing things that make you feel good will help you take the next positive steps in your pain journey.