New Year’s Resolutions for People in Pain

New Year’s Resolutions for People in Pain

By Cindy Perlin, LCSW.

It’s an American tradition. As the new year approaches, we think about making a commitment to ourselves to make changes that would improve our lives. The most common New Year’s resolutions, according to one poll, are:

  1. Exercise more (38 per cent)
  2. Lose weight (33 per cent)
  3. Eat more healthily (32 per cent)
  4. Take a more active approach to health (15 per cent)
  5. Learn new skill or hobby (15 per cent)
  6. Spend more time on personal wellbeing (12 per cent)
  7. Spend more time with family and friends (12 per cent)
  8. Drink less alcohol (12 per cent)
  9. Stop smoking (9 per cent)

While many people in chronic pain don’t believe there’s much they can do to reduce their pain other than taking pills, in fact there is plenty of scientific evidence that all of the above lifestyle changes can reduce or even eliminate pain. However, the sad fact is that only 8% of people who make New Year’s resolutions actually stick to them.

Experts suggest that in order to get New Year’s resolutions to stick, stick to small, achievable goals rather than all or nothing goals. For instance, instead of saying “I will stop eating sugar”, commit to finding some healthier foods that you can start substituting for some of your high sugar foods. Even minor changes can make a big difference in your health and general wellbeing, including pain levels.

Here are some suggestions for achievable goals that can make a big difference in pain levels:

  1. Make a commitment to start moving more. Most pain, including back and neck pain, fibromyalgia and arthritis, decreases with movement. At first, if you’re not used to moving at all, you might hurt a little more. Remember when you were younger and you used to overdo exercise sometimes and you ached? Then your muscles got stronger from the effort and you were able to do more. Even a small amount of walking, range of motion exercises and/or stretches can make a big difference. Consult a physical therapist or chiropractor if you need guidance. Water exercise classes (available at most YMCAs) or yoga classes are also good options. Exercising with others can help you stay motivated.
  2. Vow to start eating more fruits and vegetables and healthy fats and less sugar, white flour and processed foods to reduce inflammation and get the nutrients you need to heal.
  3. Resolve to learn and start practicing a relaxation technique such as meditation, diaphragmatic breathing or guided visualization. Stress changes physiology in ways that exacerbate pain and these techniques can calm your physiology and reduce pain.
  4. Pledge to keep searching for strategies and treatments that can help reduce your pain and try at least one new treatment this year. Some you might not have tried that can be life changing include biofeedback, energy psychology (emotional freedom technique), low level laser therapy (also known as cold laser therapy), a gluten free diet, medical marijuana or hemp-derived CBD oil, or a PEMF device.
  5. Make a point of adding more enjoyment to your life. Listen to more of your favorite music, find more stuff to laugh at, spend more time with people you care about (even if that means asking them to come to you if it’s difficult for you to get out), spend more time with or get a pet (cats work well for people who can’t get out much).
  6. Promise yourself you’ll read at least one book this year that will help you learn to better manage your pain. Here are some suggestions.

A new year is a great time to take stock of our lives and resolve to make changes. We all have the power to make our lives better. January 1 is a great time to start. Or don’t wait and start today!

Happy New Year!

Cindy Perlin is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, certified biofeedback practitioner, chronic pain survivor, author of The Truth About Chronic Pain Treatments: The Best and Worst Strategies for Becoming Pain Free and the creator of the Alternative Pain Treatment Directory. She is in private practice in the Albany, NY area, where she has been helping people reach their health and wellness goals for over 25 years.

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Authored by: Cindy Perlin, LCSW

Cindy Perlin is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and chronic pain survivor. She is the founder of the Alternative Pain Treatment Directory and the author of The Truth About Chronic Pain Treatments: The Best and Worst Strategies for Becoming Pain Free.

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Dominique Ruocco

PEOPLE not in CHRONIC pain dishing out advice to us thar are!!! Is cruel!!! I KNOW WHAT to do , do it, I challenge you to be me , haha you wont last a week! Im highly disciplined, learnt to be , I am ALWAYS learning what is good for me , how about congratulations!!!


Am I the only one who finds relaxation and meditation to be too time consuming to be spending time on? Not to mention that while I can lower my BP and pulse, it does nothing for the pain. Even if it did work temporarily, does the effect last any longer than the meditation/relaxation? If I have dishes and laundry to do, will it keep the pain under control while I work? If it doesn’t, it’s not much good to me. I need something that will manage the pain while I go about my work.

Jim Moulton

I am not big on making resolutions, I trust God and take things one day at a time. I don’t understand this fight against pain patients. I mean thy are taking folk with cancer off of pain medicine. So far, my payers have kept me on enough pain meds, my back is really messed up. I don’t know how these pain docs can live with themselves. They have taken a hippocrites oath. Have a good day.


Resolutions are great for psychological benefit and better for healthcare betterment commitments. I have now……for 23 years plus after my surgeon stated BEFORE the very invasive lower back vertebra fusion ashe stated “you are going to go on SS Disability”, right? I was abosolutely set back with his statement. I realize what can and can not be done with some paritcular back surgeries but, at the time, I fully expected a 100% success with no following medication, to continue life….as it was before surgery. Statisics are documents, you probably will be in “some” amount of pain for the rest of your life even with a “discectomy”. I resolved, some 23 years ago, with two sons in college, car payments and a home mortgage payment to meet along with all recurring debt, that SS Disability was NOT the best outcome.. After years of “therapy”, different treament methodologies, the one that was to help me manege pain as the predominent treatment was in fact, opioi d medication, Opioid medication professionally prescribed at at the lowest dosge possible at first but, after decades of treatment the EFFECTIVE dosage has risen above the CDC “guideline” policy for opioid prescribing physcicians and now millions of patients that thorugh the same, “standard” of medical practice have found that long term opioid medication does in fact ……enable. I am all for resolutions as we all are faced with them everyday. For dot/gov to “resolve” that ALL opioid prescribed patients should receive the same, set, maximum dosage and this dosage will be sufficient for all pain generating issues was absolutely careless. The Leave it To Beaver Era is over. Youth, in many cases will try drugs. Not all, but many. I am a patient with documented surgery, surgery results, prognosis, amd reccommended treatment for the issue….thereto. Until the enforced compliance about a year ago of “one dosage fits all” I was a business owner of 30 years, I have broken no agreements with my provider, tested relentlessly for MY personal dosage usage, and have “passed the test” until dot/gov, HHS and CDC along with DEA enforced compliance “decided” what was best for me, for us all. I do have ONE resolution, and I sure hope that it will be adhered to for ALL patients with lifetime, incurable, untreatable negative health issues with alternative pain management. Happy New Year to ALL, and may the ludicrousy be rescinded!

Kathy C

So tired of these Popular Narrative “Advice” Articles. Of course all of these Resolutions are generally valid for everyone. The insertion of Pseudo Science here though is damaging. These “Treatments’ only reinforce the current false narrative about pain. Of course if one can afford it,and the treatment is worth the time and energy spent in getting, there, by all means give them a try. They offer little more than a distraction, and a little human Interaction. The focus on the Placebo Effect; as a “Treatment for Pain, or these Psychological Interventions is basically nonsense. The Patient can feel even worse after these treatments don’t work for them, as the Practitioners repeat that they are at fault becasue a Non Scientific, unproven Treatment does not work for them. They did not “Believe it would work.” That is becasue none of this is Scientifically proven. A random Article that misrepresents Science to promote whatever the latest money making scheme, is endorsing, is not a valid basis for trying any of these Treatments.
Remember that these Practitioners Believe their product works. They have to in order to sell it.


Happy New Year Cindy, truly!

Sometimes a persons pain is so great around the clock that the only thing possible is to be in a state of misery in bed or a chair, and writhe in just too much pain.

For me to be able to focus enough on those things you mentioned that I’m extremely well-versed in, I need my pain relief medicine back.

How can I be expected to participate in living a proactive life when I writhe in so much pain that I spend my life moaning? I believe my doctor truly hates me, I don’t know how a human being can treat another one like this.

Every physician who is cutting back medication to people in pain, so they don’t get a life-destroying visit from the DEA, is a physician who shouldn’t have a license to practice any more because he or she threw away the Hippocratic Oath they swore to.

THAT part is super simple, it’s not complicated at all.

There IS NO JUSTIFICATION for that ONE THING. Had they held true to that ONE THING, none of what’s happening here with people left suffering all over the country in pain because of un vetted guidelines, would be happening.

Had physicians held true in the beginning, everything would be different. Everything


I have kept as active I possibly could over the 27 years of chronic pain and was much more successful staying active when I was on Oxycodone. Now after stopping three years ago, on my own, after six years on the medication, my ability to remain active has fallen immensely.

I gained a lot of weight after weaning myself off after having two more surgeries. I have lost thirty pounds over this past year but that did not help my increased pain levels. I don’t eat any junk food and only eat two meals a day. I don’t ever drink and quit smoking 14 years ago. The only family I have left is my wife and two kids since all friends and family abandoned us early in my chronic pain battle, which happens to many who suffer.

So in other words, I have done all what you have suggested over the years and now after taking the surgeon’s word that Oxycodone was the reason my headaches continued after my VP shunt surgery, I am in more pain than ever without any respite from the pain.

These suggestions fine and good and may well be helpful to some, but in my case with my spine literally falling apart it comes across as dismissing my suffering. Chronic pain patients are just like snowflakes, we all are different and what helps some may not help others and in my case some treatments lost their effectiveness since my condition has deteriorated and changed.

We need access to ALL TREATMENTS and that includes opioids when all else fails. IMO pitting one treatment or medication against another is just foolish and is causing great harm to those who suffer.

BTW I started with “only” “lower back pain” after a car accident in the late 80s now my pain is throughout my spine and after my neck “collapsed” in 2012 it has also spread to my brain. It is what it is…..