With the arrival of a busy, chaotic working week, it’s natural to have many things on the checklist and no time to relax. Little do we know this could be very critical time for those suffering from chronic pain. Anxiety and stress impact the central nervous system, which causes muscular tension, and pain that generally radiates in the back, on the neck, jaw, joints, or as a headache.
Since pain and stress have a compounding effect, it’s best to plan ahead and take care of stress. Here are some ways to beat chronic pain during a stressful week:
List out the necessary tasks that need your immediate attention. A large fraction of stress that we put on ourselves comes from an obsession to complete all tasks before deadlines. If you notice yourself stressed out over ‘not-so-important’ tasks, simply strike them out from your list. Plan ahead and set aside specific days for tasks of different nature. Breaking a bigger task into sub-tasks can help prevent the last-minute rush.
It is evidenced that regular stretching helps overcome stress. Stretching in the morning will prepare your muscles for the day. Basic stretching is a starting point to add flexibility to the affected muscles. Make some time to exercise (if that’s possible). Nothing beats down your tense muscles than a good workout. Even just walking as little as 20 minutes a day could be a huge stress-buster.
3. Eat right
It is inevitable to be tempted by the sugary treats every once in a while. But to be your happy self, it’s best to eat vegetables and fruits, healthy fats (like olive oil and flax seeds), lean protein (such as fish and organic chicken), legumes, nuts, and seeds. Gaining weight can make the pain (particularly back pain) worse. Avoid alcohol before bedtime to get some quality sleep.
4. Breathe out stress
If you feel anxiety, a simple check on your breathing could help. Short, choppy breaths often accompany stress or anxiety. Try simple breathing exercise if you continue to feel overwhelmed. Elongate and deepen the breath to dampen the body’s stress response.
5. Visit a happy place
Visualize your happy place to instill calm. Think of a happy place. It can be a beach or the woods – somewhere you’d like to feel peaceful. For 5 minutes in 2 working hours, close your eyes and visit that happy place to feel relaxed and free. You can download a nature soundtrack to better the visualization practice.
6. Look after yourself
If your employer allows flexi timings, start early on. If walking is a problem due to pain, consider taking some medication before leaving the house. This will help keep you comfortable while you are out on a business meeting.
Putting ice or heat pack on the affected area can ease any possible inflammation that might have occurred due to sitting for long hours. For acute pain, one can start with ice and then introduce heat pack after at least 24 hours.
7. Be realistic
You can’t have it all at the cost of you suffering from worsened pain. Avoid driving to the client’s location and rather have a video conference-call. If flying out of town for official work is a necessity, consider staying at a hotel for at least part of the time.
8. Take a breather
Whether it’s swimming after getting home or scheduling yourself a massage, finding one thing that relaxes you is crucial to managing your chronic pain. Relaxation technique like massage will help relax tired and achy muscles, easing some of that chronic pain. And, a hobby like biking will bestow numerous health benefits while going easy on the joints and bones.
If you choose to do nothing, then simply expose yourself to the sunlight. This can help you fight Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and boost your mood due to the release of the ‘feel good hormones’ – Endorphins.