The holidays can be a wonderful time of year, but they can also be a time of stress, especially if you have to deal with chronic pain. Whether your pain is in the form of low back pain, arthritis or pulsing headaches, pain can make the holidays nearly unbearable. However, you can make the pain a little more manageable if you keep a few tips in mind. Today, we’re going to share four tips for keeping chronic pain under control during the holiday season.
Chronic Pain and The Holidays
Here are a few tips to keep in mind as the holidays approach.
1. Share Duties – No matter what you’re doing, be it wrapping presents, shoveling the driveway or cooking a Christmas feast, always recruit some helpers to take the burden off your body. Standing on your feet or over stressing your back can all cause inflammation to flare up, making pain worse. Always see if some friends or family are willing to lend a hand when you have a lot on your plate.
2. Travel Comfort – Whether you’re driving home from college or flying across the country to meet up with loved ones, if you aren’t prepared to travel, chronic pain can be exacerbated by the extended period in one spot. Consider these tips when attempting to keep chronic pain at bay when traveling:
- Stand up and stretch during stops or when allowed to move about the cabin.
- Pack a pillow to help you get comfortable in your seat.
- Request a seat that will give you the best chance to get comfortable (aisle, captain seat, etc.).
- Leave early so you can hit rest stops if need be.
3. Exercise – Exercise can not only help us relieve stress during the holiday season, but it can also prevent chronic pain from bubbling to the surface. Exercise helps oxygenated blood circulate through our bodies, which helps keep them in good working order, and exercise can release endorphins in your brain, which can impact our mindset and push away chronic pain triggers. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the holidays, jump on the treadmill for a quick run.
4. Eat Right – This is one especially difficult to do during the holidays when gingerbread cookies and candy canes are bountiful. As we’ve stated on the blog before, junk foods, especially foods that are high in saturated fat and sugar, can trigger inflammation in our joints. Coupled with the cold weather, these inflammatory flare ups can trigger the onset of chronic pain. We’re not saying you can’t indulge here and there, but work in some fruits and vegetables between snacks to ensure your body is getting the right amount of vitamins and nutrients.
Thomas Cohn, MD
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