Feel-good changes: Making small lifestyle changes to live pain free

Sometimes the very things you think of as “annoying” could in fact help you feel better and manage chronic pain. Exercise being one such activity. But the fact is that exercise, along with relaxing, staying away from cigarettes and alcohol and changing how you sleep is one of the ways to make your pain a little easier to bear. Read on to see how you can incorporate these simple, easy-to-do activities in your regular routine.

1. Exercise. Most of us hate the very mention of the word. And we sometimes use pain as a reasonable excuse to avoid exercising. But not exercising may cause us to lose muscle tone which would only make the pain worse. Besides, exercise releases hormones called “endorphins” – the “feel-good” hormone. So the benefits of exercise are dual! If your pain is persistent then talk to your doctor. He/she may suggest what kind of exercise would be best for you.

2. Sleeping position: Changing how you sleep may help ease the pain so that you wake up feeling refreshed! For e.g., if you are experiencing back pain, place a pillow under your knees if you tend to sleep on your back, or pull your legs up slightly and place a pillow between your legs if you tend to sleep on your side. You may be amazed at the difference this can make!

3. Stay away from alcohol and cigarettes: A lot of people smoke to distract themselves from the pain or drink alcohol just before sleeping in order to rest well. However while alcohol could help you fall asleep, it reduces the quality of your sleep and you may wake up feeling tired. And cigarettes can trigger pain as well.

4. Keep yourself occupied: Look for the simple things that make you happy – for instance, solve crosswords or jigsaw puzzles, play board games with your kids, set up a small herb garden on your kitchen counter, listen to music or even sing aloud (don’t disturb the neighbours though!). All of these activities are not only enjoyable but will serve to keep you distracted from the pain.

5. Slow down: Breathe in (count from 1 to 5)…and out (count from 1 to 5). Repeat it again. Yes, now, before you read the next line. Do this for three to five minutes, maybe twice or thrice a day. It may sound very simple, but the experts agree that taking time out to simply relax is an important part of pain management.