When you experience chronic pain, you just want to feel better. Unfortunately, there is no quick fix
for chronic pain – it can take time and effort. But there are lifestyle tweaks you can include in your
everyday life that can help with pain.
Some of these can alleviate pain, and some can help you to cope better with the pain. Since every
person is unique, some might work better for one person than another. So start with one, give it a
good go for a few weeks, and see how you go!
Try out meditation & mindfulness
Before you roll your eyes, hear me out! Meditation and mindfulness does not have to be sitting
cross-legged on the floor, chanting. It does not mean you need to ‘stop thinking’ or ‘clear your mind
of any thoughts ever’.
Meditation and mindfulness is more about being aware that your thoughts are just one part of you.
It allows you to tune into your body and senses, and most meditations use long, slow and deliberate breathing patterns. We know that taking time to focus on breathing and calming thoughts can help to slow down a really active nervous system. When it comes to meditations that are designed for
pain, they don’t stop pain, but they do help you to recognise where the pain is coming from and
what it might mean.
The research suggests that it’s worth giving meditation a go. A meta-analysis of 38 controlled trials found that meditation helps to reduce pain, improve symptoms of depression and increase the
overall quality of life.
Most apps and meditation websites have guided meditations for pain, anxiety, stress, or all of the
above. Our favourite nutritionist (who has a condition that can cause chronic pain) Sam is a big fan of the pain (#14) and stress (#31) meditations over at Meditation Oasis.
Introduce gentle movement
It can be tempting to avoid movement when you’re in pain. But gentle movement that doesn’t cause
severe discomfort or pain can be incredibly therapeutic.
The research shows that exercise can increase your pain tolerance and decrease your perception of
pain. It can relieve pain and improve quality of life in those who have chronic pain of some kind.
To start moving again:
Start slow. Begin with gentle movement, and work your way up over a period of weeks or months.
Use non-painful joints and muscles. Endorphins are systemic, so if your pain is in your back, moving
your arms or legs will still help to relieve that pain.
Get yourself a paced rehab program. Working with a practitioner is best for this, as we can monitor
your progress, adjust movements that are too painful or difficult, and cheer you on as you achieve
Seek social support
Feeling supported doesn’t just make you feel better mentally and emotionally – it can influence your
experience of pain. Countless research papers from the 1970s up until today have highlighted how
important it is for people with chronic pain to have social support.
The care of friends and family can make a big difference. Partners can play an important role in helping you to feel supported, too.
You don't even need to talk to people about your pain if you don't want to, but talking to people about anything can be helpful - even if its small talk about news, weather, music, films.
It can be tempting to push through and struggle, especially if you’re someone who doesn’t like to
bother or burden others. But asking for help or even just a chat with someone you trust can make all
Consider joining an interest group, like a coffee club, social group or walking group.
Spend time with pets
This is by far my favourite tip, as I’m a certified crazy cat lady! But it’s also backed by some science as
well. When you play with a pet, your body releases a hormone known as oxytocin. Oxytocin can
increase your pain threshold, drop your stress and anxiety levels and reduce inflammation. It can
also decrease blood pressure and heart rate by activating your ‘rest and digest’ mode.
The best part is that you don’t even have to own a pet – you can borrow a friend’s! And the benefits
go both ways. When you cuddle a furry friend, they also feel happier and healthier.
Work with practitioners who empower you
A good team can make a huge difference for someone who experiences chronic pain. It’s important to work with qualified practitioners who understand how complex pain is. But it’s also best to work with practitioners who want to give you the tools to recover from that pain.
We can’t ‘fix’ you, but we can empower you with the facts about pain, the latest research findings,
and the best quality care possible.
Want to work with a myotherapist/remedial massage therapist who fits that bill? Book in an
appointment with a Simple Wellness practitioner here.
Mel is a Myotherapist based in Ferntree Gully.