A recent study found that 50 million Americans suffer from chronic pain, defined as “pain on most days or every day in the past 6 months,” While nearly 20 million experience high-impact chronic pain, defined as “limiting life or work activities on most days or every day in the past 6 months.”
If you’re one of the many who are suffering, the good news is that there are ways to help you cope better with it.
Deep breathing or meditation helps to relax the body which can ease pain, eliminating tension and tightness. You can do it on your own in a quiet location, wearing comfortable clothing. Imagine a spot that’s just below your naval, breathing into it and filling the abdomen with air. Allow it to fill you from the abdomen up, holding the breath for a moment and then letting it out as if a balloon were being deflated. This helps to reduce sensory processing of pain and it can also reduce the physiological response of the brain to pain.
Physical therapy for a herniated disk and many other common issues that can cause chronic pain, is certainly worth a try as it can ease pain in multiple ways. Muscles and joints can be strengthened which makes it easier to perform daily activities so that they don’t aggravate old injuries or put you at risk of developing a new one. It can also help reduce inflammation and address movement dysfunction that’s one of the most common root causes of chronic pain.
Get Lost in the Flow
Oftentimes being occupied, allowing yourself to get “lost in the flow” can help trigger feelings of well-being that eases pain. Just a few examples include painting, knitting or performing home repairs. It doesn’t matter what it is as long as you get lost in what you’re doing.
Consume More Healthy Fats
Including more healthy fats in your diet, like fish and fish oil supplements, nuts and seeds, olive oil and coconut oil may help to lessen chronic pain and inflammation, particularly when associated with arthritis. Multiple studies have found that omega-3 fatty acids can help prevent or reduce inflammation and lessen arthritis symptoms like pain and swelling.
While it’s impossible to avoid everything negative, try to stay away from negativity online, on TV and other media. The more negativity one is exposed to, the more the mood tends to deteriorate which can worsen both chronic pain and depression, which often accompanies it.
Listen to your body and rest when you need to. Most of us are so used to trying to push through the pain but we aren’t super heroes, our bodies need rest, sometimes spending the day in bed is just what you need. Be sure at a minimum that you’re getting the recommended amount of 7 to 8 hours sleep each night – those who suffer from chronic pain may need more.