chronic illness, chronic pain
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Contributor: How to Maintain a Fulfilling Lifestyle When You Have Chronic Pain


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Approximately 11 percent of the U.S. population suffers from chronic pain, a condition that’s defined when discomfort lasts more than six months. An initial injury or illness morphs into a drawn-out period of physical and mental suffering with symptoms such as decreased appetite, mood swings, fatigue, disrupted sleep, and mobility issues due to pain. It can be difficult to enjoy old activities or keep up with simple, routine-based tasks, but it’s not impossible. By making a few lifestyle changes, chronic pain sufferers can maintain a fulfilling lifestyle without feeling restricted.

Get Help for Regular Tasks

Fatigue and pain can make it difficult to keep up with chores like cooking, cleaning, and pet maintenance. While physical activity should not be avoided, make things easier on yourself from time to time—especially if you’re going through a rough patch. Hire a cleaning service to do a deep clean so home maintenance is easier to manage. Use a grocery or meal-delivery service so you don’t rely on unhealthy food delivery as a source of nourishment. Hire a dog walker and/or pet sitter to make sure your pooch doesn’t act up due to a lack of activity. These pros know how to handle dogs of all shapes, sizes, and breeds. You can even meet caretakers in advance to ensure they’re a good match for your furry friend.

Make Time for Self-Care

Don’t wait for spare time to squeeze in self-care. Make a conscious effort to schedule your favorite activities like you would a doctor appointment. This can be anything from dinner with friends, reading, or meditation—you name it. Engaging in a hobby or activity you enjoy can distract you from pain while helping you focus on something positive. Trying something completely new can boost self-confidence, too.

Eat a Nutritious Diet

Extra weight is only going to tax your joints and cause more pain, so maintain your weight with a well-balanced diet free from processed foods and filled with vegetables, fruits, lean proteins, whole grains, and lots of water. Up the ante by adopting an anti-inflammatory diet that’s void of red meat (a couple times a year is fine), is low on dairy, and has eight to nine servings of vegetables (two servings can be fruit) a day.

Do Exercises Conducive to Your Condition

Exercise can be difficult when you have chronic pain, but it shouldn’t be avoided as it can only worsen your condition. Ease into a routine and definitely don’t push yourself if you’re in severe pain. The best exercises for someone with chronic pain include: stretching to increase range of motion and loosen tight muscles, strength exercises to build lean muscle mass, and light cardio such as walking, cycling, and swimming. Make sure you talk to your doctor before starting any diet or exercise plan as there’s no one-size-fits-all plan.

Use Pain Medication with Caution

The United States is in the middle of an opioid crisis, mainly because drugs are being prescribed to mask problems rather than treat them, thus prompting dependency. This is why some health professionals are recommending an integrative approach (non-pharmacologic) such as stress-reduction therapy and meditation to avoid a potential addiction problem.

Each case of chronic pain is as unique as the individual feeling discomfort, so it’s impossible to say when symptoms will completely cease. Adopting healthy habits and asking for help can make life more manageable. Since emotional and physical pain are connected, make sure you’re managing your stress levels so that you don’t get caught in a vicious cycle.

Kimberly Hayes writes over at — go check her out!

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