As those who live with chronic pain can testify – holidays are surprisingly difficult to navigate. The stress, busyness, additional planning, cleaning and more often makes it difficult to enjoy time with family and friends. That’s why our team of chronic pain specialists decided to put together a short list of tips for preventing pain while preparing for the holidays. Read on to learn more.
What’s the Connection Between Holidays & Chronic Pain?
We make it a habit to remind our patients that chronic pain does not exist in a vacuum. It impacts every part of a person’s life. The opposite is true as well; daily events have a direct correlation to chronic pain. That means chronic pain doesn’t take time off for the holidays. Many events and traditions that used to bring joy may now cause strain, pain and stress for those who live with a chronic pain condition. This can be due to some of the following holiday challenges:
- Busy schedules
- Less flexibility in the plans
- More obligations that don’t seem to allow for periods of rest
- Atypical menu/dietary options that may cause inflammation
- Long periods of standing or sitting in uncomfortable positions
If you or someone you love has experienced a less-then-jolly holiday due to chronic pain being triggered by the items on that list, we’re here for you. CPI has Benbrook doctors accepting new patients (as well as at our Bedford location). And, in the meanwhile, try incorporating some of the following pain prevention tips that you can do from just about anywhere!
Stress can have a significant effect on how a person’s body processes pain. Some of this is a result of how our bodies naturally become more tense when experiencing times of stress. Stress hormones also play a role in triggering chronic pain symptoms. Increased levels of cortisol are linked to higher levels of pain as well as elevated amounts of inflammation.
Managing stress during the holidays might look different for each person. It’s important for you to pause and reflect on which activities and relationships might be the most challenging. Once you’ve identified those, you can move forward with implementing helpful strategies. For example:
- Deep breathing exercises
For more tips and resources on stress management, be sure to check out our blog on chronic pain and mental health.
Another way that holidays tend to trigger pain symptoms is the increased amount of decorating and cleaning. Climbing, reaching, bending and twisting in ways that aren’t part of a typical day can really do a number on a person’s body. Our orthopedic doctors in Benbrook TX (as well as at our Bedford location) encourage patients to consider proper body mechanics when doing all these holiday preparation tasks.
When lifting heavy items, be sure to first center your body toward the item and then focus on bending at the knees rather than your back. As much as possible, avoid twisting when lifting or reaching. We also see a fair number of injuries due to falling while cleaning and decorating. Consider having a partner to help you with your tasks and spot you when you climb.
We saved the very best tip for last: know yourself. You know what will happen if you push yourself beyond your limits. You know what your doctor recommends for managing your chronic condition in different settings. Don’t let well-meaning relatives push you to question yourself or argue with them about the best way to handle your pain. Listen to your body and prepare to give yourself permission to do any of the following:
- Set limits on how long you will stay at holiday events
- Take breaks or naps
- Say “no”
- Ask for help
- Stay hydrated
Your approach to holidays needs to work for you. It may not make sense to your family and friends but that’s okay. Be diligent about lovingly enforcing your boundaries. Your body will thank you for it.
Our doctors are dedicated to patient care and treat patients like family! The physicians at the Comprehensive Pain Institute are trained in advanced pain management procedures. You will receive thoughtful personalized care from our compassionate and caring providers. It’s our mission! Contact us today for help through the holidays and beyond.