Without a doubt, chronic pain is a challenge that countless people deal with on a regular basis, and it can get in the way of your quality of life. At the Advanced Integrative Rehabilitation and Pain Center, we treat patients daily who are learning to cope with and thrive even in the face of sometimes debilitating pain. We’d like to share a few tips with you in the hopes that you may find relief in some of our suggestions.
Let Yourself Get Distracted
A lot of our clients report back that when they can lose themselves in something they really enjoy, the pain diminishes or vanishes. If the pain can disappear even for a few moments, it’s a major victory. Being able to achieve this welcome relief a few times each day can lead to much greater relaxation, mood improvements, and a significantly higher quality of life overall.
Your preferred mode of distraction can be as personal as your unique interests and preferences are. Do you enjoy good music, a fun book, or an interesting movie? Are there activities you can immerse yourself in, even things you used to enjoy but can’t do as much of now? For example, if you like gardening and it soothes your mind, but you’ve given it up because of the chronic pain you experience, think up ways to take up your hobby again. You may even be able to find a friend or family member willing to do some of the labor-intensive work for you while you manage the gardening project and deal with the less manual aspects of gardening.
A good distraction could be an afternoon out at a coffee shop watching people while enjoying a soothing beverage. It could be joining a monthly book club, or taking a gentle water aerobics class. It could be something as simple as playing with your pets, or picking up the phone and calling a good friend. Whatever distractions you enjoy, immerse yourself in them as much as possible, and you, too, will likely find that, even for a few magical moments, your pain fades away.
Practice Relaxation Techniques
Even if you have limited mobility, there are several relaxation techniques you can try to manage your symptoms of pain. The first and most accessible one involves breathing. Mindful breathing is all about turning your attention over to your breath. As you slowly inhale and exhale, notice the rhythm of your breath. Focus on this exquisite rhythm of life. Feel your lungs expand as you take in fresh, new air. Feel your body relax as you release your breath back into the world. This practice is very soothing, and it’s attainable for just about anyone!
Other effective relaxation techniques include:
- Guided Imagery: Bring to mind images that you find soothing. You could picture places that you find relaxing, such as the beach with waves gently lapping ashore, or a forest scene with soft breezes rustling leaves and blowing through pine needles. Picture what relaxes you the most.
- Gentle Yoga: The beauty of yoga is that it’s a relaxation tool that can be used by just about anyone at their own pace, regardless of abilities. While there are advanced poses for those who’ve been practicing yoga for years, there are also slower, gentler movements that someone with chronic pain can genuinely benefit from. Tai chi is another viable option.
- Meditation: The tried and true meditation techniques that have been practiced for centuries still apply today, and they work well for relaxing and alleviating pain. To meditate, sit comfortably, focus on your breath, and lose yourself in the beauty of the moment!
Learn New Pain Management Strategies
Even if you’ve tried numerous pain management techniques already, there are many new ones you can explore. Acupuncture, acupressure, and reflexology (the practice of massaging reflex points, particularly in your hands and feet, to relieve tension) are worth trying, even if you’ve tried and discounted them before. Revisit these timeless pain management techniques, and you may just discover a “new” way to diminish your chronic pain symptoms!
Find Gentle Exercises That Work For You
You may not be able to run a marathon or lift weights, but there are plenty of other exercises you can do that will bring you relief. Exercising is helpful because it improves your circulation, lubricates your joints, helps your blood deliver oxygen and nutrients to your cells, strengthens your muscles, relaxes your nervous system, and encourages your body to produce endorphins, which are natural painkillers.
Besides, exercise can be fun! There are so many ways to be active. You can take a walk in a beautiful park, or do gentle dance moves in your own living room. You can go to your neighborhood pool and do a few slow swim strokes, or try floating on the water. Which exercise you choose to do is completely up to you. The main thing is to get up and move! Sitting down for long stretches of time without moving can actually increase pain symptoms. By getting up every so often and walking around or doing simple stretches, you’ll be combating and alleviating pain.
Reach Out For Help
Even if you’re a very independent person, you need to realize that you don’t have to do everything yourself. Reach out for the help that you need to take care of matters so that you have more time to relax and work on your health and wellbeing. For example, if you need help driving somewhere, or assistance with household chores or errands, don’t hesitate to ask for help from your community. Never feel like you are imposing on others; ask around, and you’ll likely find that many people are very happy to step in and help when needed.
Try Integrative Medicine
Of course, this is what we specialize in, but we do so for a reason: For the vast majority of our patients, it works well to alleviate pain. Integrative medicine is about integrating and applying all of the best available methods for managing pain. It incorporates a blend of both complementary and conventional therapies to achieve optimum results. If you’re ready to try an integrative medicine approach to your pain management, contact us at the Advanced Integrative Rehabilitation and Pain Center in Washington, DC.
Our integrative care can incorporate a wealth of therapies, including chiropractic care, medical acupuncture, and other forms of treatment designed to decrease the sensation of pain and increase relaxation and wellbeing. We are here to assist you in your wellness journey. Reach out to us today!