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Sweet Relief: Simple Pain Relief Strategies

8 Ways to Treat Chronic Pain

-- By By Robin Donovan, Health Writer
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Try this: One day a week, or even one day a month, set your phone alarm to go off each hour that you're awake. When you hear it buzz or ring, close your eyes for a few seconds, take a deep breath and exhale. Do it just once, or repeat for 5-10 breaths, which should only take a few seconds of your time. Then, move on with your day. You may find that the simple habit of stopping and checking in--even though it can seem like an annoyance--helps you reset and feel more present in your day.

Even the simplest habits, like a hot shower after a hard day, five minutes of sitting quietly or practicing a progressive relaxation exercise (imagine yourself relaxing piece-by-piece, from head to toe) can be hugely effective. Whether or not you feel immediate relief, you’re building a mindset of habitual relaxation that can ease pain over time.

Sleep Regularly
You probably don’t need a research study to tell you that it’s important to get enough sleep and that sleeping poorly can make you more susceptible to pain and a host of other health woes. But did you know that a negative mood can also contribute to sleeplessness?

If you only have a few minutes to yourself each day, try scheduling them right before bed so that you slip between the sheets with a smile and a positive outlook. Also, try to stick to the same bedtime and wake-up time each day, so that your brain and your body are ready for sleep.

Yoga and Stretching
As a part of your exercise routine, yoga and stretching can contribute to both physical fitness and relaxation, especially when combined with breathing exercises. A qualitative study of yoga and chronic pain found that Hatha postures in particular created a sense of acceptance and body awareness for pain clinic patients.
Try a local Hatha or gentle yoga class or use online exercise videos to carefully attempt a few basic poses. It’s best to enlist the help of a qualified and certified teacher to make sure you’re practicing the exercises correctly, especially if you have physical limitations, chronic injury or pain issues.

Try Medication
If pain is out of control--limiting your ability to sleep, contribute meaningfully to your social circle or be productive at work--it may be time for a heart-to-heart with a physician you trust. If you’re not established with a pain specialist, try a primary care provider first.
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About The Author

Robin Donovan Robin Donovan
Robin Donovan is a Cincinnati-based freelance writer and magazine journalist with experience covering health, medicine, science, business, technology and design.

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