Living With Pain: Tips for Coping With a Chronic Condition

Living With Pain: Tips for Coping With a Chronic Condition


Chronic pain can be a debilitating condition that takes over your life, limiting what you can do and where you can go. Medication can treat the condition but is often as debilitating as the pain, leaving you dependent and at risk for addiction. Often, your choices are pretty limited: Either learn to live with the pain or make peace with a restricted lifestyle. Fortunately, there are a number of things you can do to help cope with the situation and maintain a normal life. Here are a few tips to help you find a means of dealing with pain.

Healthy diet

Your body’s inflammation can be caused by the gut. When the lining that protects the immune system from toxins in the gut becomes damaged, your immune system goes into overdrive, resulting in inflammation. It’s important to keep your immune system well protected, since your gut not only produces 70 percent of your body’s immune cells, it also strengthens the immune system when there’s a healthy balance of good and bad bacteria. The best way to reduce inflammation and maintain a well-balanced gut microbiome is by eliminating sugar and processed foods from your diet. Instead, opt for probiotic supplements and foods that contain prebiotics and probiotics, like bananas and yogurt.

Deep breathing

Deep breathing exercises and meditation are excellent ways to relax the body and ease pain. Repetition is the key to these mental/physical disciplines. Focusing on your breathing, quieting your thoughts, or repeating a phrase over and over has a way of relaxing the mind and calming the muscles, which is key to alleviating pain. All you really need is a quiet space where you can get comfortable and block out negative thoughts. The practice of filling your lungs with air, then slowly releasing it repeatedly, can have a remarkably soothing effect.

Regular exercise

If you have reasonable freedom of motion, exercise is also an effective means of mitigating pain because it releases endorphins in the brain that make you feel better. Endorphins have the effect of reducing pain by strengthening muscles. Regular exercise can help make you feel good in other ways, by keeping your weight under control, reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, and increasing lung capacity. Certain health conditions aren’t conducive to vigorous exercise, so be sure to consult with your doctor. Even if pain is restricting your movements, there are exercises that don’t require strenuous activity that can still help keep you fit.

Reduce stress

Your body can be sensitized to pain in many ways. Negative thoughts and feelings create tension in the musculature, which can set off a pain reaction. And it can be a vicious circle; depression and anxiety contribute to pain but are often the result of a chronic pain condition, so the cycle feeds on itself. Finding strategies that help mitigate stress can help control your pain. Try undergoing  music therapy, taking a peaceful stroll in the woods, or listening to a book on CD, which creates mental imagery and keeps your thoughts from gravitating toward pain.

Remember that your living environment has a definite impact on your stress level. A cluttered, disordered mess can stimulate confusion and exacerbate a pain reaction, so take steps to create a living space that’s easy to move around in and where you’re able to find the things you need. Other stress-reducing arrangements may include the use of an oil diffuser and adding houseplants and light throughout the home.

Reduce or eliminate alcohol

Alcohol is a depressant that can have a number of negative effects that may exacerbate pain. Pain makes it difficult to get to sleep, and alcohol makes it difficult to get the full, restful cycle of sleep you need to feel well and rested in the morning, a situation that’s less than ideal for someone suffering with chronic pain. Try to cut down on alcohol consumption or eliminate it completely.

Support help

There’s a lot to be learned from others who have discovered strategies for coping with chronic pain. That’s why a chronic pain support group can be so helpful. Counseling can also be of great help by teaching you to avoid negative thoughts and focus on positive experiences. Cognitive behavioral therapy can help you “reprogram” your brain’s response to pain.

Record your pain experiences

Keeping track of your pain level each day can help you determine what activities and thoughts are triggering pain responses in your body. Keep a journal in which you record pain events and the level of pain you experienced that day.

Living with chronic pain is a day-to-day proposition. Learning to cope with the condition can take time and patience, but there are many ways to continue leading an active and fulfilling life.


Courtesy of

Ricky Grabow