Chronic pain is never fun to deal with, but it can be especially difficult to manage during the holidays. Your diet, sleep schedule and travel plans can get your body out of whack, so today I’m sharing some tips to help you control your chronic pain during the holidays.
1. Travel Tips – If you’re dealing with chronic back or neck pain, being crammed on a plane or in a car for hours on end can be painful. That said, there’s still some ways to make yourself more comfort while traveling. If you’re traveling on a plane, see if you can get an aisle seat. That way you can stand up and stretch if needed without waking up any sleeping patrons in your aisle. If you’re in a car, leave earlier so you have time to stop at a rest stop and move around if your joints start to get stiff.
2. Eat Right – The holidays are a time when our waistbands can expand to Santa’s size, so be cognizant of what you eat. Eating junk food can aid to your chronic pain, make you more lethargic, and as a result, keep you from exercising, which is beneficial in chronic pain management. If you have to travel, pack a healthy option so you’re not gorging on fast food during your travels.
3. Keep Exercising – As I’ve said in earlier posts, regular exercise is crucial in controlling and preventing chronic pain symptoms. Getting your regular workout in during the holidays is no easy task, but don’t use the company party or a family visit as a reason to skip your exercise. Wake up early or carve out some time – even if it’s only 15 minutes – to exercise. Getting out of a routine makes it easier to stay out of your exercise routine, so don’t let the holidays slow you down.
4. Medication Management – Most people who take medications to help with their chronic pain have a pretty set schedule for managing their meds, but as this post suggests, the holidays can throw your routine out of whack. Double check to make sure you have all your medications for a long stay, but also be aware of where you store them so young nieces and nephews can’t accidentally access your medications. If you’re going to run out of a prescription while out of town, contact your doctor before you leave instead of having to jump through hoops from afar.
5. Rest Up – Sleep is a restorative process where your mind and body relax and rejuvenate, so try not to skimp on sleep this holiday season. It may be easier said than done, but it’s important nonetheless. That means no staying up in the wee hours of the night trying to catch Santa Claus!
Follow these tips to have a pain free (or at least a little less painful) holiday break! If you have any tips on how you manage chronic pain during the holidays, please share in the comments section.
Thomas Cohn, MD
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