Leaving 2020 Behind
The year 2020 is coming to a close. We have been through a lot this year – most notably the COVID-19 pandemic, with its related economic setbacks. Political unrest continues as we see out the old year. The pile-up of stressor upon stressor can affect a normally balanced person’s ability to cope. For patients who struggle with chronic pain, increased stress can exacerbate pain levels. To make matters worse, the pandemic-related shutdowns and restrictions have often affected patients’ access to their therapeutic health care providers.
We are looking forward to and hopeful for improvements in 2021. But they aren’t going to happen overnight. In the meantime, there are things we can do to get stress and chronic pain under control. The start of a new year is traditionally a time to make positive changes.
Healthy New Year’s Resolutions
It is an unwritten American tradition to make New Year’s resolutions. It seems an appropriate time to commit to changes that could improve our health. Some of the most commonly made resolutions are related to better health practices:
- Stop smoking
- Drink less alcohol
- Follow an exercise schedule
- Lose weight
- Eat healthily
- Learn a new skill or take up a new hobby
- Spend more time on self-care
- Spend more time with friends and family
Chronic Pain Patients May Benefit from Health Resolutions
Chronic pain patients can feel lonely, frustrated, and hopeless. Many believe that there is no way to reduce pain other than taking pain medication. However, research has revealed that each of the resolutions listed above, as well as many other lifestyle changes, can lessen or potentially eliminate pain.
Making Resolutions Stick
It is estimated that only about 8% of resolutioners stick to the changes throughout the new year. In order to make this percentage higher, experts suggest making smaller, more achievable goals in lieu of huge lifestyle shifts. For example, if you resolve to cut out all sugar, a setback may make you abandon your resolution completely. Instead, find some substitutions for high-sugar treats and resolve to make the switch. Sugar is an inflammatory, and reducing your intake can have an effect on your general health and wellbeing.
Here are some resolution ideas that may make a difference in the lives of chronic pain sufferers:
- Move more. Pain, particularly back and neck pain, arthritis, and fibromyalgia, often lessens with movement. It may require an adjustment period if you are not used to moving much at all – so be aware that starting out, it may cause your pain to increase. As your muscles get stronger with the effort, you should notice a benefit. Walking is a great place to start. Stretching and range of motion exercises are also helpful. Your chiropractor, physical therapist, or general physician can offer guidance if you are not sure where to begin.
- Eat more fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats. Eat less white flour, sugar, and processed foods. Making these dietary changes not only optimizes nutrition but can reduce inflammation throughout the body.
- Begin a relaxation practice. Meditation, guided visualization, and slow breathing exercises are some examples of practices that help your body relax. Stress and the physiological reactions to stress can exacerbate pain levels. The opposite is true when your body is in a relaxed state. There are many apps and free YouTube videos that can help guide your relaxation practice.
- Add things that you enjoy to your life. Listen to your favorite music more often, seek out comedic material that makes you laugh, read good books, talk with people you care about, get a pet if you are able.
Watch the YouTube video. Below is a 20 minute guided meditation aimed at reducing pain levels.
Everyone has the power to make small improvements in their lives, and January 1st is a natural time to start making positive changes.
Sacramento Car Accident Lawyer
Hello and Happy New Year. I’m Ed Smith, a car accident lawyer in Sacramento, California. Car accidents have left many of our clients in chronic pain. Our office encourages a holistic approach to healing. Suffering affects all parts of a person’s life. For compassionate, free, and friendly legal advice after an auto accident, call to speak with one of our injury lawyers at (916) 921-6400 or toll-free from outside the local area code at (800) 404-5400. We are also available online.
Photo Attribution: MMB
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