Living with chronic pain may not be inevitable, but for people suffering without a diagnosis (or waiting on test results) sometimes it’s just a part of life. Although it doesn’t have to last forever, sometimes it just feels that way.
29 tips for living with chronic pain
It doesn’t have to be a marathon or an hour at SoulCycle, but a little movement every day can go a long way. Slow, steady, and low impact wins the race – don’t rush, and don’t push.
2. Get a diagnosis
This might be the hardest part about living with chronic pain. Getting a diagnosis can be a long journey. Persistence is key. Find a healthcare community that bolsters and cares about you as a patient.
3. Do some art
Art can be therapeutic in its creation and viewing. Try to silence your inner critic and immerse yourself in creation.
4. Talk to your friends
Socially engaged people live longer, happier lives. Living with chronic pain makes the person in pain feel removed and far away. Instead of curling up under a blanket, invite a friend over for a cup of tea or a movie marathon.
5. Take a walk
Being outside is good for both your physical and mental health. Taking a walk or simply being in nature can help clear your mind.
6. Get support online
Living with chronic pain can be an isolating situation that even the closest friends can’t understand. Talking to a therapist can help, and talking to an affordable therapist online is a great way to relieve financial stress.
7. Drink some tea
Taking time for tea can offer a brief period of rest and relaxation in an otherwise hectic day. Add anti-inflammatory ginger, turmeric, and honey to help give you a natural boost!
Meditation for chronic pain can help reduce the perception of pain in just three 20-minute sessions. It doesn’t make pain go away, but it can make living with chronic pain a little easier.
There is much research that shows that chiropractic care can help with some pain conditions. Give it a try!
10. Change your mind
In the absence of a diagnosis and no physical, structural issues that would be causing pain, there is a school of thought that believes “playing through the pain” is the way to go. Pain wears grooves in the brain that actually change the way the brain works, even when the cause of the pain is removed. Fill in those grooves by living your life the way you want, in spite of the pain.
11. Try a new treatment for back pain
Check out these 84 different treatments for lower back pain and give them a try!
12. Go for a float
Float tanks reduce anxiety and have been shown to relieve stress caused by living with chronic pain.
13. Do some yoga
14. Target your lower back for strength
Even if you can’t fit in an entire workout, targeted strengthening exercises for your lower back can help treat (or prevent) injury to that area.
15. Read a blog
Reading a blog won’t help relieve pain, but knowing that others are going through the same thing can help.
Even if you suffer from the full-body pain of fibromyalgia, laughing is one great way to distract yourself. Find some funny memes on Instagram and get ready to laugh.
17. Educate a friend
Sharing the “spoon theory” with a friend can help them understand what you are going through. Friends and family may try hard, but living with chronic pain often remains a mystery. Help them understand.
Adult coloring is experiencing a renaissance. Many different types of coloring books are available, from mandalas to garden scenes to curse words. Choose the one you like best, grab your pencils, and get started!
19. Keep a diary
Pain diary apps can be extremely helpful when it comes to getting a diagnosis or managing pain. Tracking diet and sleep can help you better understand what causes a flare-up of pain, and exercise trackers can help keep you active.
20. Read and write
Reading and writing can relieve the stress of living with chronic pain. Take some time to read and write for both pleasure and purpose.
21. Evaluate your mental health
This may not be the most fun thing to do on a fall afternoon, but taking the time to evaluate your mental health can be an important part of treatment for chronic pain.
22. Change your diet
23. Play with your kids
You may be tired, they may be cranky, but time spent with your kids is worth it. It need not be crazy and active. Walk to the park and push them on a swing, or drive there and watch them make some friends in the sandbox. Parents in pain need extra reminders sometimes of why time with kids is well-spent.
24. Do some research
Knowledge is power. If you have a diagnosis and want to know more, head to trusted resources online to find new research, cutting-edge treatments, and potential discoveries.
25. Practice self-care
Whatever you can do that makes you feel relaxed and cared for, do that. Living with chronic pain is tough work, and sometimes just getting by is all you can do. Take some time out to care for yourself in a way that is meaningful to you.
26. Get a massage
Whether it’s deep tissue or light Swedish, massage is a restorative type of bodywork that can leave you feeling relaxed and destressed.
27. Get some acupuncture
Research has shown that regular acupuncture can help with hip, back, and neck pain.
28. Set a budget
This may not be glamorous, but sometimes getting your financial ducks in a row can help relieve stress. Eating healthy on a budget can be difficult, especially if you are starting a whole-foods or unprocessed diet. Try to rein in your food budget to bring costs down.
29. Remain positive
There is nothing harder to do than this last tip for living with chronic pain. Even if you are naturally optimistic, remaining positive after months (or years) of dealing with chronic pain can be challenging. We all have our bad days, but coming out of them, try to focus on the things you have to be positive about. Gratitude can help keep the focus on what you are most thankful for.
If you or someone you love is living with chronic pain, what tips do you have?