4 Ways to Manage Chronic Pain During the Holidays
Chronic pain turning you into a bit of a Scrooge this holiday season? You’re not alone. More than 50 million adults in the U.S. live with chronic pain.
Living with chronic pain can suck the joy right out of celebrating during the holidays. With so many things to do – cooking, decorating, gift-buying – it’s easy to get overwhelmed and do more than your body can tolerate.
If you’re tired of feeling limited (and cranky), there’s good news. You can’t completely rid yourself of chronic pain for the holidays, but you can get it under control with these 4 strategies.
Strategy #1 – Control Your Stress
Controlling your stress can be easier said than done. However, it’s a must-do if you want to make it through the holidays without excruciating pain.
Research provides ample support for the idea that high stress levels and chronic pain go together like peanut butter and jelly. Some factors, like socioeconomics and pre-existing mental disorders, can make you more susceptible.
It’s not just anxiety and stress that can trigger your pain. It’s easy to feel like you must meet everyone else’s expectations and demands to celebrate the holiday. Don’t let anyone pressure you into activities you know aren’t good for chronic pain. Abusing yourself physically – staying up too late, spending too much time on your feet – can cause you a world of hurt later.
Strategy #2 – Delegate Tasks
One of the surest ways to spare yourself a chronic pain flare-up during the holiday season is to delegate tasks. It can be difficult to let go and let others help with things (especially if you tend to be a bit of a micro-manager).
However, sharing the load is the most effective way to ensure you’re not in too much pain to enjoy time with family and friends later.
When you push yourself too hard, it can worsen your chronic pain. Think of some creative ways to take the burden off yourself.
Make holiday decorating a family affair
If you decorate your home for the holidays, turn it into a family affair. Whether that means hanging out some holiday lights or putting up a tree, don’t try to do it all yourself.
Even if you’re having an “on” day, you can trigger your chronic pain and end up miserable for the rest of the holiday season.
Pay a neighbor kid to shovel
If you live in a part of the country that gets the fluffy white stuff this time of year, don’t try to clear your walks and drive yourself. Hire a neighbor kid to shovel and toss some salt to help your guests avoid slips and falls.
Can’t find a neighbor willing to do it? Consider using an app like TaskRabbit or inquiring on your neighborhood Facebook page to find someone to help you out.
Throw a potluck dinner
Does everyone like to hang out at your house for the holidays? It’s nice to be a favorite hangout, but it can mean a lot of extra work.
Throwing a potluck dinner can be an easy way to play host without doing all the work of feeding everyone yourself. Ask guests to bring one of their favorite dishes for the holiday table. They might find it fun—and certainly will make the event better for you.
One more hack to help keep your inflammation at bay: use holiday-themed paper plates to eliminate the cleanup afterwards. You can eliminate the tedious task of washing dishes and enjoy spending time with your guests.
Strategy #3 – Pamper Yourself
Controlling stress – and chronic inflammation – may require you to put yourself first and follow a holiday self-care routine. Set aside some time each day to de-stress and promote natural pain relief so you can enjoy the holidays.
Get enough rest
Depriving your body of adequate rest each day can trigger all sorts of health-related issues. Chronic inflammation is one of them.
Regularly getting less sleep than you need negatively impacts your immune cells by altering the structure of your DNA. Over time, your body produces too many white blood cells, which can trigger inflammation.
Soak in the tub
Make time for a relaxing soak in the tub each night, especially on those days when you’ve been engaging in holiday-related activities. Submerging yourself in hot water is invigorating and therapeutic.
There are numerous health benefits to a soak in the tub:
Use all-natural pain relief
Even if you follow these strategies to a T, your inflammation still might rear its ugly head during the holidays. Turning to all-natural pain relief solutions can help get you through it.
If you need pain relief fast, turn to Premiere’s Pain Spray or Roll-On. An all-natural blend of menthol, isopropyl alcohol, eucalyptus leaf oil, wintergreen leaf oil, peppermint oil, and coconut oil, it brings lasting relief in under 2 minutes.
Drinking turmeric root tea also can help ease chronic inflammation. Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, has proven anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anti-tumor effects.
Strategy #4 – Watch Your Diet
Overeating and the holidays seem to go hand in hand for most people. It’s easy to see why when everywhere you go, people are eating, drinking, and getting their merry on.
All whole foods – dairy, fruits, grains, vegetables – contain natural sugar. It’s OK to consume these foods because your body processes whole foods more slowly.
Added sugar like those found in many holiday dishes and treats should be consumed in moderation.
Nix your inflammation this holiday season
Don’t let chronic pain ruin your holiday celebrations. Focus on the things that really matter (hint, hint, it’s not how many hours you spend in stores hunting for the perfect gifts).
Get plenty of rest, cuddle with your loved ones, and create memories to last until the next holiday season.
Happy holidays! May yours be pain-free!
Shari Berg is a researcher, frequent blogger, feature writer, and author of Wars End with Me.
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