More than 116 million Americans suffer from chronic pain according to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies. This results in hundreds of billions of dollars in health care costs in addition to lost wages. Although there are a number of remedies, more than half the people questioned say they have little to no control over their pain.

I number among the statistics suffering from chronic pain due to fibromyalgia and arthritis. I cannot tolerate any over-the-counter or prescription pain relievers, so I seek relief from alternative methods. I also do my best to prevent the pain from getting unmanageable by following a few simple practices.

Here is my personal pain prevention and management plan:

  • Prayer. I begin every day in prayer. The quiet, calming effect of meditative prayer is relaxing and encourages deep breathing. Plus, I always have a list of things to talk about with God. Putting my  worries in God’s hands is so much easier than trying to solve everything myself.
  • Warm bath or shower. I shower in the morning. The warm water helps relieve aches and pains and aids flexibility. After a day of strenuous physical activity I will take another one or soak in the tub.
  • Moderate Exercise. My husband and I walk every day. This is beneficial on many levels. We have time alone together without the distractions from home and home office, we get exercise, when outside we absorb sunshine and fresh air, and we enjoy the scenery and people around us. I also attend yoga classes for stretching.
  • Move Throughout the Day. I get stiff if I sit at my desk too long so I drink a lot of water which has the two-fold benefit of keeping me hydrated and forcing me to get up to go to the restroom.
  • Balanced Diet. I eat a healthy range of fruits, vegetables, and proteins and feel best if I don’t overeat, skip meals, or consume fatty foods.
  • Friends and Family. Time with loving, supportive friends and family encourages optimism, laughter, and feeling loved. It also encourages thinking of others rather than myself.
  • Soft Music. In my office I listen to classical or other instrumental music which I find inspirational and relaxing.
  • Avoid Stress. Stress is believed to aggravate all illnesses but avoiding it is a tremendous challenge in this fast-paced world. I try to limit unnecessary commitments and over-scheduling.
  • Sleep. I fall short here often staying up way too late but know I feel better after a good night sleep. If I am in a lot of pain, I have no choice but to give in and get some rest.
  • Massage. Massage relieves the tender spots that acquire due to fibromyalgia. I cannot work them out on my own and am very thankful for my therapists who do.

Here’s wishing you a pain-free, happy day.

©Mary K. Doyle

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