“Be stubborn about your goals, and flexible about your methods.”
Years ago my main goal was to cure my chronic pain and fix it forever. Obviously, that never happened and I learned to change my goal to: Manage my chronic pain naturally and live a happy life despite chronic pain. That is my goal and I am quite happy with it. I am also stubborn about this goal because if I am not, my goal would not have taken me so far in the world. When I first learned the methods in which to obtain this goal, I was not in the least flexible and quite taken aback at what was in store for me. I did not believe I could achieve happiness and health with the methods presented to me. It took a huge leap of faith and tons of flexibility to reach the point where I am now. This post may be repetitive but every now and then new readers will email me on how I manage pain without medication or treatment and we all need refresher at times (including myself.) I do have a routine and I try very hard to incorporate the components I need to manage my chronic pain naturally on a daily basis.
Each day I am awake before six thirty: either I just wake up or I hear a cute little two year old yelling “Mommy.” Within an hour of waking up I exercise. I either go running with my daughter, practice yoga, kickboxing, interval training, or walking. Basically, anything that gets my heart rate up and produces some sweat. Exercise helps not only my chronic pain but my anxiety as well. Yes, I am an avid exerciser but you do not need to run four miles to obtain the benefits of exercise. You can walk, do light yoga, swim: anything that gets your body moving. I prefer to exercise in the morning for two reasons. Number one: I have found it is the greatest way to begin my day and two, if I exercise at night it tends to keep me awake and invokes more insomnia than I need!
Following exercise, I make a juice. For example today I cut up some carrots, oranges, ginger, spinach, apples, and celery. I throw it all in my juicer and have grown to really enjoy the taste and the way it makes me feel. Does juicing help chronic pain? Maybe, it sure does not hurt and either way it is amazing for you and gets so many vitamins and minerals into your system. Either way, eating healthy for me is a must. I try and not eat processed food but I am not perfect. I eat as healthy as I possibly can and over the years it just becomes total habit and junk food actually really begins to taste like its name: except chocolate. That will never be under my junk food column. I’m still human!
I always try and get meditation into my daily routine and ninety percent of the time succeed. When my two year old naps I practice yoga nidra which is the meditative form of yoga. Some nights I have a lot of difficulty sleeping and practicing yoga nidra (meditation cd and amazing) helps me to feel totally rested and researchers say practicing a half hour to an hour of yoga nidra is the equivalent to about four to five hours of actual sleep. If I do not practice nidra or my daughter does not nap I makes sure to at least practice deep breathing exercises for ten minutes. Belly breathing is so important and most of us as we grow older no longer use our bellies to breath. If you have children watch how their tummies go in and out as they breathe. They are breathing correctly. As adults we begin breathing with our chests and never get the full amount of oxygen we really need. Throw in age, anxiety, and chronic pain and you will definitely see you are breathing with your chests. Everyone has ten minutes a day to practice silent breathing exercises. I always thought meditation meant being in a silent room, sitting up erect with my hands on my knees. This is not the case. Meditation comes in many ways, shapes and forms. I cannot tell you the amount of CD’s I have bought over the years that have guided meditations on them. Enjoying meditation took me much longer than anything else I have learned to do in my every day routine. I put so much pressure on myself to make “meditation work” that I ended up being more anxious then relaxed. I enjoy having someone guide me through a meditation. I also enjoy lying down when practicing meditation. There is no right or wrong way to meditate: find something you enjoy and start slowly.
As I wrote in a previous post, moderation is key to managing chronic pain. I have to be cognizant of how much I do and have to be able to say no to people and events that I know will be too much for me in a given day. I also need to let go of the guilt that seems to accompany moderation. You know your limits, you know you body and if you don’t you soon will. It takes time to learn your limits and what is too much or too little. Becoming in tune with your body without focusing on the pain takes a long time. Stop being hard on yourself!
Finally, I no longer talk about chronic pain. If I have to I tell my loved ones: “I am having a difficult day.” I do not want to focus on the pain and I continuously find ways to distract myself. If I start harping on pain I find something I enjoy doing: reading, writing, yoga, cooking, walking outside, and almost always playing with my daughter. I swear, Kayci has become the best distraction. Yes managing chronic pain naturally with kids can be very difficult but she has become my greatest, happiest distraction. I get to go play on the playground and go down slides: how is that not fun? Helping others is another amazing distraction for anyone with chronic pain. You need to feel self worth, which is sadly something people with chronic pain tend to lose. You are never too ill or sick to make a difference in this world.
My methods for managing chronic pain fluctuate but the things I wrote above are truly a must for me. I am very open minded about new techniques and ways to manage my chronic pain but I will not change my goal. I spent almost two thirds of my life consumed with chronic pain and had no life. I will never go back to that lifestyle. I am very stubborn about that and remind myself every day of how unhappy I was searching for cure and taking medications. Try and be open minded. And remember this is a journey. I do not care how old you are: it is never too late to obtain the life you were meant to have. Chronic pain does not have to be a death sentence. Chronic pain sure has made me appreciate all the little amazing things the world has to offer me.