How do you cope with the idea of living with chronic pain?

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Answered by: Katherine, An Expert in the Living With Chronic Pain Category
Living with chronic pain, or any chronic illness is a challenge. Coping mechanisms for people living with chronic pain vary from person to person. I am here to tell you about my personal illnesses and the struggles that have come along with them as well as ways to live with it effectively.

I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia in January of 2016. At the time I was working full time as an administrator at a landscape architecture firm. I was tired all the time and the pain I was in did not correlate with the amount of physical activity I was engaging in on a regular basis. I felt like I was about to get the flu, but it was constant. After going to the doctor and getting diagnosed, I was relieved but was left wondering what to do next. I was prescribed a load of medications that left me feeling like a zombie, and certainly not feeling much better. I went back to the doctor where my bloodwork indicated that there was an autoimmune issue, likely caused by Lupus- although further testing would be needed. My medications were adjusted, I left that job and moved back home. I was miserable. I was either in pain or I was a zombie sitting in front of my laptop from the medications.

I decided that there needed to be a happy medium, and I found a few techniques very helpful in reducing my daily pain to a reasonable level.

1. Hot baths with essential oils and Epsom salts to relax the muscles. This is my go-to and has been a favorite self-care technique for most of my life. I really enjoy lavender essential oil to relax further and create a holistic experience.

2. Stretching. I was a yoga therapy practitioner for years and have found that the techniques I learned in my training are invaluable when certain muscle groups are acting up. The biggest thing for me is to make sure you are stretching both sides evenly. A good place to start is a modified version of the yoga sun salutation, utilizing your knees as needed.

3. Anti-inflammatory foods and drinks. When I was first diagnosed, my doctor mentioned turmeric having anti-inflammatory properties and having really good results for people with chronic pain. I use it in tea, juice drinks, salad dressing, and I'll even sprinkle a little in my pasta sauce. Another food that has anti-inflammatory properties is pineapple. It contains bromelain which helps to relax muscles and it's really delicious. I use pineapple juice as the base of my daily concoction. (See below)

4. Supplements. I take a lot of supplements in addition to my medications so that I need less medicine to function normally. Magnesium is very helpful for muscle relaxation as well as aiding in sleep. I have it in powdered form that I will mix with a glass of water before bed to help relax me. I also take hemp oil as it has pain relieving properties as well as omegas that are good for joint and brain health.

Every day when I get up, I stretch a little bit and then make my daily concoction. The ingredients sometimes vary but for the most part, it contains 12oz of pineapple juice, 2oz of ginger juice (for lung health,) 2oz lemon juice (for immune system,) charcoal (for detoxifying,) cayenne pepper, and then a few droppers full of the following herbal tinctures:

- Turmeric (anti-inflammatory and pain relief)

- Oregano (antiviral)

- Astragalus (immune boost)

- Holy Basil (mood and systemic support)

- Ashwagandha (energy and vitality)

Drinking this has helped me focus better on whatever tasks are in front of me, rather than thinking about my chronic illnesses.

I hope this has helped you come up with some strategies for you to cope with your chronic pain.

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