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Chronic pain affects roughly 100 million Americans, and 1.5 billion people worldwide. Pain is often invisible, in that one can have a chronic pain condition and appear “normal,” but have significant difficulty functioning physically and emotionally.
Here are 5 simple, effective ways to help manage pain.
Mindfulness has been shown to have a number of benefits, including helping people be more resilient even to laboratory-induced pain. It can help reduce perceived pain severity and improve pain coping. Mindfulness has also been shown to reduce distress in general, help prevent depression relapse, alleviate insomnia, and foster greater self-compassion.
Adopt an anti-inflammatory diet. Both pain and depression have been linked to increased levels of inflammation in the body. Adopting an anti-inflammatory diet consisting of mainly unrefined, primarily plant-based foods, and that includes good sources of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids from fish, flaxseed, and walnuts, etc. can help address symptoms of pain and depression and is good for overall health. In addition, spices like ginger, turmeric, and cayenne pepper also have anti-inflammatory effects.
Hypnosis can help you feel more comfortable. A growing body of research has found that hypnosis, which includes self-hypnosis, can help “turn down the volume” on chronic pain and reduce emotional distress, foster increased relaxation, and get better sleep. In fact, Mark Jensen and colleagues at the University of Washington have found that different types of hypnotic suggestions appear to target different brain structures, leading to decreased distress about pain, decreased pain severity, and can help you focus on developing a workable pain management plan. You can find a therapist certified in clinical hypnosis to work with, or begin by using one of the self-hypnosis audio programs available via iTunes, Google Play, and more.
Probiotics in supplements and probiotic-rich foods such as kimchi, sauerkraut, yogurt and kefir have been linked to a variety of mental health benefits. Among these are decreased social anxiety and depression symptoms, and better gastrointestinal health. The latter is good for everyone, but especially important for those suffering from painful GI disorders such asCrohn’s disease, and others.
Music has been found to reduce pain severity and improve pain coping. It’s also been shown to help reduce distress, increase feelings of well being, and help with sleep. The keys to making music therapeutic are to select music you like, listen attentively, and understand that the benefits will increase over the course of a given session of listening (after about ? hour). Aim for two sessions daily.