As a 26-year-old, I never expected to be one of the 100 million Americans who suffer from chronic pain. But after an accident on the freeway left me with debilitating, chronic pain, I became one of those statistics. Whether it's migraines, back or neck pain, sciatica, arthritis or fibromyalgia, pain is something that most of us live with. Here are seven ways that we can cope.
1. Distract Yourself
Painkillers make me feel groggy and tired. When I can avoid them, I try to add one thing to my day that brings me joy. Whether it's a yoga class, visiting with a friend or a stroll on the beach, I don't let feeling discomfort get in the way.
2. Eliminate Stress
Understanding the pain-stress connection can have a huge impact. Eliminating stress in other areas of our life can help relieve some of the pain we are facing as well. Not only will the pain you feel decrease, but you will also feel the benefits of leading a more carefree lifestyle. It's a win-win! Also try adding more laughter to your day. A case of the giggles can be one of the best tricks to lowering the stress hormone in your body.
3. Join a support group
Spending time with other people who literally feel your pain can give you the emotional support you need. You will feel validated and more hopeful by witnessing others that are experiencing and overcoming similar struggles.
4. Eat Healthy
Health benefits from certain foods like thyme, ginger and grapes can help ease the perception of pain, decrease nausea or reduce inflammation in your joints. Understanding which of Mother Nature's foods can affect your body positively is the first step. You will find more energy and look and feel better if you add more vegetables and fruits to your diet.
The battle between chronic pain and insomnia can be a vicious cycle. Taking extra measures to add extra hours of sleep will not only improve your physical well-being, but will also help you remain emotionally stable.
6. Volunteer to help those facing similar situations
Empower yourself by helping others who experience similar challenges. You will become more confident and knowledgeable in your own skills and better at managing your own health when you try to provide support and motivate others to do the same.
7. Focus on gratitude
When I shift my focus from the pain I feel to the areas of my body that work perfectly, I feel emotional strength and an increased willpower to combat the daily struggles of dealing with pain every day.
When I start to get frustrated that seemingly simple things can be so difficult, I have to remind myself to do a reality check. A good reminder for me is to write down a daily list of things I am grateful for. Your positive outlook on your condition will be contagious to those around you and will help you feel better starting from the inside out.