5 Lifestyle Changes to Help Manage Your Chronic Pain in 2021
The New Year is the Perfect Time to Make Lifestyle Changes
Living with chronic pain can drastically reduce your quality of life. Simple, everyday tasks become difficult. It disrupts your sleep and leaves a negative impact on your mood and overall mental health. The effects of chronic pain vary from person to person, but in all cases, it leads to exhausting effects.
While there are many treatments available to help you manage your chronic pain, you can ease this pain on your own. There are plenty of bad habits that can make your pain much worse. Regardless of if you suffer from lower back pain or joint pain, you can make some lifestyle changes to help manage your chronic pain.
As we head into the new year, making these lifestyle changes can help you start the year off on the right foot. Pairing these lifestyle changes with pain management treatment will help you find pain relief faster.
If you do suffer from chronic pain, the pain management doctors at Texas Partners Healthcare Group have the experience, skills, and resources to treat your condition and help you find pain relief. Give our Frisco pain management clinic a call today to learn how we can help.
1.) Improve Your Sleeping Habits
Your sleep plays a vital part in your overall health. After all, your body replenishes and recovers while you sleep. If you get proper sleep, you can reduce your level of fatigue and irritation. However, a lack of sleep also affects how you perceive pain.
People who don’t get enough sleep or don’t get quality sleep are more likely to experience higher pain sensitivity. The National Sleep Foundation ran a poll in 2015 that revealed that the majority of those suffering from chronic pain report poor sleep quality. Furthermore, one in four of those with chronic pain also have a sleep disorder.
Getting quality sleep can help you manage your chronic pain. Here are some tips to improve your sleep habits:
- Keep your bedroom cool (around 65 F). Your body temperature naturally drops when you sleep. On top of that, when you keep your room cool, it necessitates more blankets to keep you warm. The additional weight from the blankets promotes more relaxing sleep.
- Stick to a sleep schedule. Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. Doing so will help regulate your circadian rhythm. It also helps your body know when to shut down for the day.
- Eliminate light. When it gets dark, your body produces melatonin, which helps make you tired. However, artificial light from phones, TVs, and other devices stimulates your brain and prevents melatonin production.
- Watch what you eat. Certain foods and drinks can interfere with your sleep. Avoid sugar, caffeine, alcohol, or nicotine before bedtime.
2.) Improve Your Diet
Piggybacking off of the last sleep tip, watching what you eat and drink can also help you manage your pain. While improving your diet is, in essence, simple, it can also be quite hard. Making lifestyle changes such as this requires you to reset patterns you’ve been following for some time.
Several foods cause or worsen inflammation. Some foods can even cause life-altering conditions. According to the American Cancer Society, nearly 20% of all cancers are related to body fatness, physical inactivity, alcohol consumption, and poor nutrition.
Sugar worsens inflammation and offers no nutritional value, often leading to complicated illnesses that increase your pain, such as diabetes. Other foods you should avoid are:
- Processed foods
- Fried foods
- Refined carbs
- Artificial trans fats
- Sugar alternatives (corn syrup, fructose, etc.)
- Oils (margarine, lard, etc.)
Instead, aim for a diet that consists of:
- Spices (such as turmeric, cinnamon, garlic, cayenne pepper, rosemary, etc.)
- Lean proteins (poultry, eggs, fish, pork, lamb, etc.)
- Leafy green vegetables (kale, spinach, broccoli, arugula, etc.)
- Legumes, nuts, and seeds
- Fruits (berries, cherries, pomegranates, etc.)
- Bell peppers
- Olive oil
- Coldwater fish (salmon, herring, mackerel, etc.)
- Dark chocolate
Many of these foods help fight inflammation, which, in turn, reduces your chronic pain.
3.) Get Active
Healthcare experts recommend getting a minimum of 150 minutes of exercise a week, equaling five days of 30 minutes of exercise. Don’t go from no activity to intense workouts. Slowly build up your level of physical activity to build strength and endurance.
Studies have proven that regularly exercising has many benefits. Staying physically active helps reduce your pain severity and improves your overall physical function. By improving muscle tone, strength, flexibility, and more, you can reduce inflammation and overall pain levels.
Again, you don’t need an intense workout routine to stay active. There are lifestyle changes you can make to increase your daily physical activity:
- Park at the back of the parking lot
- Walk your dog every day
- Take the stairs over the elevators
- Engage in relaxing exercises (such as yoga)
- Use a standing desk at work
4.) Regularly Stretch
On top of staying physically active, incorporate stretching into your daily routine. Many people living with chronic pain have experienced pain relief from regular stretching. Remember, stretching will not rid you of your pain, but paired with other lifestyle changes, it can reduce the level of pain you feel.
Some pain management benefits of stretching include:
- Reduced muscle tension
- Improved blood flow and circulation
- Improved joint function
- Increased flexibility
- Strengthened muscles
- Improved stability and coordination
5.) Reduce Your Stress
Chronic pain is more than just a physical sensation. In many instances, your mental health can worsen your chronic pain condition. The everyday stresses of life weigh on your mental health, which eventually affects the rest of your body. Stress causes your muscles to tighten and tense, which increases your pain. It’s a vicious cycle. Chronic pain is a source of stress, and stress increases your pain.
Managing your stress better is one of the best lifestyle changes you can make, but for some people, it’s not as easy to do. For some, exercise can help. For others, mindfulness (such as yoga, meditation, and deep breathing) can help. Journaling or meeting with a therapist can also help improve your stress.
Take a step back to identify your triggers. Write down what causes you the most stress, whether work, relationships, negative self-talk, etc. Examine that list and look for ways to minimize or eliminate this stress.
If you wake up late every day, prepare the evening before to make your morning go more smoothly. If your schedule is full and you have no time for yourself, get rid of some of your commitments to ensure you have time to relax and decompress. There are many ways you can reduce your stress.
Contact Our Frisco Pain Management Clinic
The start of the year is an excellent time to make lifestyle changes to improve your quality of life. For those living with chronic pain, there are numerous changes you can make to help manage your pain. From improving your diet and exercising to reducing your stress, you can easily manage your pain on your own.
However, in some cases, these changes aren’t enough. It takes more extensive pain management treatments to treat your pain accordingly. Our team of pain management doctors will work closely with you to identify the cause of your pain and create a personalized pain management plan for you. Contact Texas Partners Healthcare Group today and let us help you find pain relief.