Living with chronic pain can be tough at the best of times, but staying positive and
keeping active can be a great way to maintain a healthy and balanced lifestyle, as well as helping to beat the blues. Here are ten great tips that we found to get you started…
- Tip #1 – Keep fit!
Whilst exercise may be the last thing you feel like doing when you are suffering from chronic pain, it may be exactly the thing you need! Even gentle daily exercise can help to release endorphins (the brain’s feel good chemicals), boosting your mood and helping you maintain a positive outlook on life. Exercise can also help to keep you toned, flexible and strong: all important qualities when it comes to managing your symptoms.
Why not consult your GP or physio, and try to work out an exercise plan that will work for you?
- Tip #2 – Avoid alcohol
Although it can be tempting to reach for the alcohol when you are feeling stressed out or in pain, alcohol acts as a stimulant. This means that whilst it may help you to get off to sleep; it promotes shallow sleep, reducing your ability to get that good night’s rest that you are likely in need of.
According to Paul Chelminski, Assistant Professor of Medicene (University of North Carolina):
“Alcohol has no direct pain-relieving properties. There is a strong relationship between chronic pain and anxiety and depression… So in general, we should not encourage a perception that alcohol relieves pain because, in fact, it puts patients at higher risk for complication from their pain medications.”
- Tip #3 – Cut out the cigarettes
Like alcohol, cigarettes can act as a crutch that we reach for during anxious moments. We don’t need to tell you about the negative effects of smoking on your health, and the fact that it is likely to cause a worsening of your symptoms in the long run.
However, quitting is easier said than done, right? Don’t give up on giving up just yet! There is lots of help available to support you along the way, and we’ve put some info together here, which we hope you find useful.
- Tip #4 – Eat healthily
Eating a well-balanced diet can have positive effects on both your health and mental outlook. Although there is no firm evidence to suggest that a particular diet can improve your symptoms, some people do claim that they feel better if they avoid certain foods.
You can find out more about how your diet may help to control your fibromyalgia symptoms here. Do remember to first consult your GP or nutritionist before making any significant changes to your diet.
- Tip #5 – Keep a pain journal
Keeping a diary of how your pain levels are affected each day can be a useful way of tracking your symptoms, and finding links between aspects of your lifestyle that may improve/worsen your condition. webmd.com recommends keeping a record of your pain score (from 1 to 10), with a note of which activities you did each day. Take the journal with you next time you see your GP, and discuss any of your thoughts and findings.
- Tip #6 – Relax!
Take time out for yourself each day to give your body a chance to rejuvenate. Whether its sharing a dinner with friends; going for a massage, or putting your feet up to watch a movie: a well-balanced lifestyle should involve making enough time to do the things that make you feel relaxed and happy. Don’t forget that learning to relax may also include not being afraid to say no to the things that you don’t feel up to doing. Not feeling well enough to attend that party at the weekend? A good friend will totally understand, so try not to give yourself additional stress by worrying about letting other people down.
- Tip #7 – Try meditation
Taking time out to mediate each day can be the perfect way to ease your stresses. In addition, as meditation helps to relax you, you might discover that it also helps with pain relief. Find out more about different meditation techniques here.
Considering enrolling in a meditation class? meetup.com can be a really great way to find one local to you
- Tip #8 – Take up a hobby
Sometimes if we focus on thinking about pain too much, it can (arguably) contribute to the experience of it. Taking up a new hobby may be a good way to distract your self from your aches and pains, and give you a focus to look forward to each week. You can read more about some great fibro-friendly hobbies in this article, by the Fibromyalgia Network.
- Tip #9 – Educate yourself when it comes to your medication
Do you understand how your prescribed medication works, and what its side effects might be? Keeping informed about your course of treatment, and any adverse reactions that you may be having with it, can be a great way to maintain a control over your illness. If you don’t feel like a particular tablet is having a positive effect, perhaps you can explain to your GP why you think this, and discuss any other possibilities that may be available to you.
- Tip #10 – Remember you are not alone
Dealing with a chronic pain illness can be an extremely isolating experience. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from trusted friends and family members. Support groups and online forums can also be a great way to connect with others who may be going through similar issues as you. It’s really important to remember that there is always help out there if you reach out for it.
Discover a fibromyalgia support group near you by following this link.
Which of these ten tips have you found most helpful? Do you have any more to add to the list?