January 02, 2020 3 min read

man staring on the beach at night time staring off into the ocean

Chronic pain can make you feel like you have no control over your life. Maybe you’ve tried it all and you feel like giving up. 

However, you might be making it worse than it needs to be. There are several lifestyle habits that have been scientifically shown to worsen chronic pain. If you’re doing any of these things in your life right now, try to make some changes so that they are no longer practiced.

cigarrettes

Smoking

Smoking is among one of the worst things you can do for your pain. While it may help you with your pain relief in the short term, the long term effects are much worse. Smoking can also increase your sensitivity to pain. Tobacco tricks your brain into releasing dopamine, but at the same time it makes it difficult for your bones and tissue to get the oxygen filled blood it needs.

Hanging on to your smoking habit makes it less likely for pain treatment to effectively work for you. If you are currently having trouble quitting smoking, seek out help in doing so. There are many online websites and support programs so that you don’t have to do it alone.

couch potato with a tv remote

Being Sedentary

When you’re in pain, the last thing you want to do is get up and move around. But sitting around all of the time is only going to add to the pain you are going through.

If you don’t use your muscles, they are more likely to atrophy and stop supporting your body very well. It’s also more difficult for your body to get the oxygen it needs to function. Your mental capacity will decrease, making it harder to concentrate and easier to become depressed.

You don’t have to commit to an intense workout routine to reduce pain from sitting too long. Getting up to walk around every hour or so will help to reduce your pain from being sedentary.

Guy at a coffee shop with laptop looking stressed

Too Much Stress

Chronic pain often adds more stress to your life. When pain interferes with your ability to work or socialize, your level of stress increases. More stress leads to more pain, which leads to more stress, and so on.

People who are always stressed out tend to experience more back, neck, and shoulder pain than those who aren’t. Chronic stress makes it difficult for your brain to maintain a balance of pain and functioning.

There are several things you can do to cut down on your stress. Meditation and low impact yoga are great ways to reduce your stress in a manageable way.

Burger with Fries

Bad Food Habits

What you eat can have a huge impact on your pain levels. Most foods in the western diet are inflammatory, which can seriously worsen your pain.

One study tested how mice responded to being on the western diet. It found that fat mass increased, as well as inflammatory markers. This made them more susceptible to chronic pain and a larger appetite, making it difficult to get away from the destructive diet.

Cutting down on processed food is a great way to limit the amount of toxins you are consuming. You’ll also want to include more fresh produce and lean meats.

beer

Alcohol

Self-medicating with alcohol is one of the oldest ways of dealing with pain. However, there are many dangerous side effects that come with using alcohol too much.

Alcohol is also noted as not mixing well with many medications. People who drink too much also reported experiencing extreme pain. It’s fairly easy to build up a tolerance, which means you’ll need to consume more to get the same results.

An alternative would be to use essential oils. Essential oils are a natural way to address pain and come with less side effects than alcohol. You can use them in a variety of ways to make your pain more bearable.

Constant Worry

Chronic pain makes it easy to worry about what will happen in the future. After all, if your ability to function is limited because of the pain you’re experiencing, you may not have the same options as those who don’t deal with chronic pain.

Worries can cause physical symptoms like muscle tension and headaches. This can worsen already existing pain and add to the cycle of worry. Chronic pain and worries disorders tend to go hand in hand.

Therapy and relaxation techniques are some of the best ways to address worries and pain symptoms.

While you might feel like you have no control over your chronic pain, you can make changes to your life to lessen its impact on you. Start by exercising more, cut out alcohol and smoking, and do what you can to limit stress and worries. You’ll be surprised at how much better you will feel.

 

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