By Jackie Waters
When you finally realise you have chronic pain, your whole life changes. Many things that were simple to take care of previously can now be hard, anxiety-inducing, or even impossible. The stress associated with all of that can make your quality of life even lower.
Thankfully, there are changes you can make to your lifestyle that will help. Your doctors are the only ones who can find a solution to chronic pain, but these changes can help you manage your pain. They can even help you live a better life.
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Goals To Aim For
The first thing you need to do is make a list of goals. What do you hope to get out of these lifestyle changes? Keep these goals realistic and attainable, but make them something worth working towards achieving.
Here are some great goals you might want to focus on.
- Get to sleep early enough — and stay asleep — so you’re well-rested in the morning.
- Be able to get your assigned jobs and tasks done at work.
- Get fitter and healthier, and maybe lose extra weight.
- Rely less on your pain medication and more on your healthy-living habits.
- Stay active in the sports or activities you love.
- Be able to play with the kids or grandkids.
Once you have a goal in mind, you can better explore what changes need to happen.
Changes To Make In Your Lifestyle
First, you’ll need to make a list of things you do that may be triggering or exacerbating your chronic pain. You’ll probably need to verify a few of these with your doctors, but if you eat fast food every day for lunch and notice more pain about an hour later, at least you have an idea of the connection between the two.
Here are some common habits and conditions that can be complicating your chronic pain.
- Tobacco can increase the amount and intensity of pain.
- Obesity and inactivity.
- Drinking too much caffeine — it interferes with sleep.
- Eating too much salt, sugar, fat, and processed foods.
- Drinking too much alcohol.
- Work strain and repetitive tasks.
Then what changes can you make? On the surface, it’s simple: You do the opposite. If you’re overweight, start eating better and exercise more. If you smoke, quit. And if you do repetitive tasks at work, try finding different ways of doing them.
You’re probably thinking, “Easier said than done.” You’re right. Such lifestyle changes are not easy, but there are some tricks you can use to help make those changes stick.
First, get specific. Don’t say something vague like “I need to exercise more.” That’s so general that it’s easy to forget. Instead, go for a specific, detailed plan, like, “I will go to the gym every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday right after work.” You might need to make adjustments as time goes on, but having this kind of starting point will definitely help set you up for success.
Next, only make one major lifestyle change at a time. Many people get overambitious and try to implement all of the changes at once. This will overwhelm your mind and body, and those lifestyle changes will start to fall apart. Pick the one you’re most interested in, then focus only on that.
Lastly, get the people you love involved. If you tell no one about giving up smoking, then there’s no one to help when you face temptation. Besides, talking to others about a lifestyle change makes it feel more real. When you think about giving up the changes you’ve made — which everyone does at some point — the fear of telling your friends that you gave up can be a great motivator.
Chronic pain is bad enough as it is. Don’t let toxic lifestyle choices make it worse for you. Create a goal that you want, then create a plan for one major change to reach that goal. Be specific, and get your friends and family involved. Soon, you could be living better than you ever thought possible.
Guest Author: Jackie Waters