Invisible illnesses are often incredibly difficult to live with, and just as often misunderstood or underestimated.
Even though you may already have a combination of physical therapy, medication and other treatments, symptoms can still sometimes act up and make daily tasks more difficult than they need to be.
If you’re looking for a few more tips for an easier life in spite of your chronic pain, here are some to get you started!
Find New Ways to Relax
Stress, anxiety, anger and other negative emotions can increase anyone’s sensitivity to pain, but being someone who suffers from chronic pain symptoms makes it that much more critical to avoid these feelings as much as possible.
There are many ways to relieve stress and promote more calming feelings and emotions, including:
- Calming music
- Creative outlets (writing, art, etc.)
- Breathing techniques
These are just a few ideas, but everyone is different! Experiment and look into new and relaxing ways to bring down your stress levels and you can avoid unnecessary additional sources and causes of pain in your life.
Endorphins Go a Long Way
Taking advantage of nature’s pain killers by boosting your endorphin levels is a great and organic way to relieve your pain symptoms.
Depending on your pain levels, exercise can be something you dread. After all, sore muscles on top of an already aching body? It’s probably hard to sound more counterintuitive than that.
The reason that the term “runner’s high” became popular, though, is because the rush of endorphins can be phenomenal. Not only do endorphins boost your mood, they also block pain signals and ease both the suffering associated with the workout and other sources of pain.
Even if you have to start slowly with short walks or small weights, finding an exercise that you are able to enjoy and work up to can both distract you from the initial pain symptoms and also relieve them overall.
Build a Community
Chronic pain can often seem like a very individual struggle and it can be easy to feel alone or misunderstood by others.
Joining support groups, both online and in person, is one way to strengthen your personal community. They may seem a little cliche or needless at first, but they can really help both in making you feel less alone and in giving you more people to trade ideas and experiences with others in similar situations.
Additionally, you can further strengthen your community by seeing a mental health professional if you find that your pain is impacting your emotional and mental wellbeing. Many cases of depression and anxiety can be linked to chronic conditions, and getting professional help can make it a lot easier to handle.
Cut Back on Substances
Though substances like cigarettes, alcohol and various drugs may be sources of pain relief or enjoyment in your life, they could also be very negatively impacting your health and even worsening your pain overall.
Chris Meyer, a doctor and surgeon with experience in conditions like chronic swelling, stresses the importance of sobriety when handling chronic pain and other persistent illnesses:
“The thing about substances like alcohol, cigarettes and other drugs is that people typically take them as a method of escaping things like pain, so it may seem fair to use them. However, withdrawals can often worsen pain’s endurance and intensity, making it harder to handle whenever you want to be sober. Outlets like smoking can also worsen circulation and lead to even more complications.”
In addition to withdrawal symptoms, drugs and alcohol can worsen things like sleep problems and lead to other diseases like cancer, heart disease or liver disease, things that would definitely not make living with chronic pain any easier.
Your body may give your schedule some limitations, but it’s important to keep yourself as mentally and physically occupied as you are able.
Distractions may seem like a cheap or ineffective way out, but they can go a lot further than you may realize. Staying in control of your life will give you a chance to focus on things other than your pain.
Plus, even on the worse, less manageable days, leading a more fulfilled life with the activities that make you happy will always boost your morale overall.
Chronic pain can make life much more difficult to enjoy, even if you are properly medicated and supervised by a doctor.
Keeping stress down, boosting your endorphin levels naturally, finding support, limiting your substance intake and keeping yourself busy with things you love are great ways to diminish and take your mind off the pain.
For more useful tips and resources from our community, be sure to look through and keep up with our other fantastic articles and posts on chronic pain!