We wish for the New Year to be full of all things fabulous. Health, wealth, happiness, reaching goals, and creating new ones. Pain (of any kind) is not on the New Year’s resolutions list unless you wish your pain would go away or decrease.
Can we scale down or shut down pain? In some cases, yes, significantly when you can change your habits and behaviors that may be causing it in the first place. And some common causes of pain stem from everyday actions (or lack thereof), which you can do something about…right now!
Stress. The word alone can cause you to tense up. We all have pressure in our lives, some that can linger, some that lets up after we have addressed it, and it may or may not be within our control.
Some level of stress is normal, even healthy. But when it snowballs, your body may not be able to handle the intensity. Effective stress management is the key to helping prevent body aches and pain.
A few of these stress management tips recommended by WebMD include:
- Eat nutritiously
- Maintain a positive attitude
- Make time to do things you enjoy (hobbies, reading, cooking, etc.)
- Take a deep breath before reacting
- Accept what you cannot control
- Practice meditation, yoga, deep-breathing exercises
- Get enough exercise
- Avoid taking drugs (unless medically necessary) and drinking alcohol
Lack of Sleep
When coffee is the only thing that will keep your eyes open, you probably need more sleep. Wouldn’t we all love to snooze in bed until we felt like getting up? But work, kids, school, and, well, life don’t exactly allow for it. Do we stay in “zombie” mode forever or find a way to catch some Zzzs?
Insufficient sleep can cause body aches and pains. Sleep loss can change how our brains process pain, per a study conducted by the Center for Human Sleep Science at the University of California, Berkeley. Participants in the study who were deprived of sleep were more sensitive to pain during experiments.
Getting more sleep may seem like a dream come true, but we can only dream when sleeping!
Here are some ways to foster a better night’s sleep:
- Keep the bedroom quiet, calm, cool, and dark
- Avoid using tech devices (smartphone, tablet, watching TV, video games, laptop, etc.) in bed before you need to go to sleep
- Don’t go to bed hungry or too full
- Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep per night
Feeling parched or even in pain? Your lack of hydration could be the culprit, causing cramping, fatigue, and tension. Fluids help keep the joints cushioned, protecting them from pain.
You can easily do something to reverse the thirst.
- Aim for approximately eight glasses of water per day
- Avoid too much salt
- Drink before you start to feel thirsty – make it a habit
- Add more water-rich foods into your diet (fruits and vegetables)
- Drink more water when you are perspiring, or the weather is hot
- Have a glass of water when you feel hungry – it could be thirst you are experiencing
Fluid Retention (Build-Up)
What you eat, certain medical conditions and medications, and other factors unique to the individual can cause water retention. While this may not sound serious, severe cases can lead to circulatory problems and heart disease. You may experience swelling, bloating, nausea, and tiredness too.
Talk to your doctor about preventative measures to reduce fluid retention and remedies to treat your condition. Other options to find relief are topical pain relief creams, warm baths, massage therapy, and heat therapy.
Arthritis can cause chronic pain, limiting your ability to function at your peak. Whether your arthritis is due to joint overuse or an overactive immune response creating inflammation, you can find relief, if not complete repair.
Again, your doctor can help you with a management plan and use creams, heat, and massage if that enables you to find relief.
No matter how careful we are, there’s always the chance of catching a cold or virus, especially during the colder months when people are more inclined to stay indoors. When we’re sick, our body tries to heal itself, part of which results in inflammation, aches, and pains. As we recover, it may feel like there’s no end in sight, but there are ways to make the process less dreadful.
Try to get plenty of sleep, eat healthfully, stay well-hydrated, and give your body time to heal. Listen to your body, and don’t overexert yourself until you’re ready. As your body gets back to health, your pain should subside.