Reproduced from www.yoursmagazine.co.uk By Martine Gallie, 3 September 2012, 13:18
Living with pain is never easy, but our expert tips will help you rediscover your get up and go
Whether it’s the pain of arthritis, chronic backache or simply unexplained pain that makes your days difficult, these tried-and-tested self-help tips will help you to enjoy life again.
1. Pace yourself
‘Pacing’ is a bit of a buzzword when it comes to managing long-term pain. “If you wake up in the morning and you feel quite good it’s very tempting to think ‘I’d better make the most of it’ and rush around,” says Sarah Priddle, a specialist pain practitioner for Somerset Community Pain Service. “But then, when you wake up the next day and you can hardly move, you feel even more frustrated and angry than before.”
Pacing is the art of finding the right balance between doing too much and being inactive so that you feel more in control – learn more at www.painsupport.co.uk.
2. Learn to relax
Stress and tension are known to make people’s perception of pain worse, so it’s important to make time to relax. If you feel yourself getting tense or frustrated, take it as a signal to take some time out. Do something you find relaxing and enjoyable, such as listening to music, reading a magazine or just sitting in the sun for a while.
You may also find special relaxation exercises helpful. Try this simple 10-minute relaxation technique suggested by Arthritis Care:
- Pick a quiet place and a quiet time
- Sit or lie in a comfortable position with your head supported and your eyes closed.
- Take a deep breath then breathe out slowly
- Continue to breathe deeply and slowly, focusing on your breathing. Feel your stomach move in and out with each slow, deep breath
- Try thinking of soothing words, such as peace or calm.
3. Stay active
According to the British Pain Society, people with persistent pain who stay active feel better and can do more than people who are inactive. “Pain encourages you to be sedentary, but what you really need is to stay active,” says Dr Austin Leach, a spokesperson for the society. “Just because you feel pain on moving it doesn’t mean you are doing damage. Even 20 minutes gentle exercise each day can reap enormous dividends.”
4. Keep up your interests
When you are constantly in pain it’s tempting to start dropping activities that you once enjoyed. But hobbies and socialising with friends can be a valuable distraction from your pain as well as a great mood booster. Instead of focusing on what you can no longer do, focus instead on finding ways to continue with the things you once enjoyed. If it’s hard for you to get out to see friends, for example, invite them over for a coffee instead. Or if gardening is getting difficult, invest in a few tools that will help, such as long-handled edging shears or a garden kneeler with handles.
5. Ask for help
Painkillers aren’t the only help that’s available through your GP – you may want to talk to your doctor about other what other help is available. Free self-help courses are available through the Expert Patients Programme in some areas, for example. These six-week courses can help people to manage long-term conditions, including chronic pain. There are also 300 NHS pain clinics in the UK, or you could discuss the possibility of seeing a physiotherapist or counsellor.
* For a copy of the British Pain Society’s booklet Understanding and Managing Pain phone the society on 020 7269 7840 or visit www.britishpainsociety.org.