Adapting to a life with chronic pain is a journey. Chronic pain has been shown to affect more Americans than heart disease, diabetes and cancer combined. Learn how to gain comfort and peace while dealing with chronic pain.
The Nature of Chronic Pain
Those living with chronic pain are familiar with the ever-present feeling of discomfort. Pain is considered chronic when it has been ongoing for over 3 to 6 months. The process of managing chronic pain varies for every person. Many people who experience chronic pain experience feelings of anger, hopelessness, sadness and anxiety. Leena Kodali, MD, Medical Director for our MatureWell Lifestyle Center, says, “Addressing the physical, emotional and psychological aspects of this condition can help you build resilience and teach you the best ways to manage your pain.”
Tips for Coping with Pain
Learning to understand the behavior, emotions and thoughts that come with chronic pain can help you cope effectively. Consider some of these lifestyle changes to help you manage your pain:
Stay active. Continuing to do the activities you enjoy can be therapeutic and allow you to keep pain from taking a toll on your lifestyle. Exercise can produce endorphins, which improve mood and can possibly reduce pain signals. Stay healthy with activities like stretching, yoga, swimming and walking.
Maintain a balanced diet and stay hydrated.A healthy diet brings many benefits, but it can be especially helpful for those living with chronic pain. An easy-to-digest diet can help alleviate inflammation and prevent pain.
Digestive-friendly foods to eat: leafy greens, asparagus, low-sugar fruits, whole grains and lean meats
Foods to limit/avoid: dairy, chocolate, eggs, wheat products, coffee and tea
Powerful positivity. A positive mindset is a powerful tool! Focus on the improvements you’ve made to help perceive your pain differently. This mindset allows you work towards finding a healthy way to manage the pain.
Be consistent with medications. If your primary care physician prescribed medication for your treatment plan, be sure to take them as prescribed to avoid complications.
Need a support system? The St. Joseph Health MatureWell Lifestyle Center offers a Chronic Pain Self-Management Class for those who are dealing with a diagnosis of one or more chronic conditions that cause pain. The six-week class will help participants find more energy, experience less pain, improve their mental health and become more satisfied with life. Call 979.731.6126 to register.