I come across a lot of clients experiencing chronic pain and while there is a lot that can be done with holistic therapeutics, there is also a great deal that people experiencing pain can do at home to begin the process to recovery. If you’re one, read on.
1) Make sure you’re drinking enough water. The general guideline for daily water consumption is one half of your body weight in ounces. Temperature matters too. According to traditional holisic medicine, it is advisable to go for room temperature as cold water is more difficult for your stomach to work with and stagnates energy flow in your body, causing blockages and leading to pain. Water helps to lubricate your intestines and provide nutrients to your body, allowing for optimal digestion. It also cushions your joints and lines many of the structures in your body, ensuring that they function properly and do not undergo unnecessary strain.
2) Eliminate soda from your diet. Adding more water into your daily regimen is the first step; cutting out dehydrating and toxic substances, such as soda, from your diet is the next. Depleting your body of the water which is essential for its functioning and stripping down your insides with wear and tear not only makes it more difficult for your body to recover from pain, it may be a potential culprit behind your chronic pain.
3) Slow down: your mind. Pain is a signal, a red flag that something deeper is wrong in your body. Trying to cover it up only lets the problem to progress further and can result in more severe chronic pain or manifestation of an illness that takes a lot of time and effort to address. There are several ways to cultivate enhanced body awareness. One of the first steps is recognizing and respecting what your body is trying to tell you.
4) Get moving: your body. Pain results from blockages with a lack of energy and substance flow in your body. Yoga asana practice is one the best movement practices you can try out as it stretches the body inside and out without placing too much tension or strain on any one part. You also get the chance to couple movement with deep breathwork which helps to oxygenate and cleanse out your body of toxins. If yoga doesn’t really speak to you, another low impact exercise option is swimming.
5) Eat clean. Choosing whole, natural foods is not just a matter of clearing out toxic foods and drinks from your diet; it is a practice of eating foods that optimize your quality of life. A couple of my favorite quotes that help to bring this concept home are: “If it came from a plant, eat it. If it was made in a plant, don’t” (-Michael Pollan). Secondly: your stomach is not a garbage can. If your body is working to process foods that offer it no nutritional value and on top of that, harm it, it is ultimately working against itself.
6) Cultivate healthy eating habits. You’re choosing to put foods into your body which help to build it up rather than break it down- great! Now… how are you eating your food? Eating healthy food is only half of eating healthy. The other half is how you’re eating that food. A few pointers:
- Chew your food, not your thoughts.
- Eat sitting down while in a calm and peaceful state of mind.
- Eat 3 meals a day at consistent times to maintain regular digestion.
If you’re not digesting your food properly, you’re putting stress on your body which causes it to become depleted and deteriorate at a faster rate.
7) Eat anti-inflammatory spices, herbs, and foods. A clean diet sets much of the necessary roadwork for creating a pain-free, strong body. Another way to help you get there is to integrate spices, herbs, and foods which are known to have an anti-inflammatory nature. Here are a few anti-inflammatory foods you can try:
- Turmeric- anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and anti-viral, turmeric is one of the most commonly known spices touted for its health benefits in Ayurvedic Medicine. With its active ingredient of curcumin, not only does it have an anti-inflammatory effect on mucous membranes of the throat, lungs, stomach, and intestines but it also helps to improve the intestinal flora. These actions have a direct and indirect impact on relieving pain, helping to address pain locally while also improving digestion, thereby increasing nutrient absorption, allowing the body to more easily bring itself back into balance.
- Holy Basil (Tulsi)- recent research demonstrates that this common Ayurvedic herb has an analgesic effect similar to COX-2 inhibitor drugs with ursolic acid reducing inflammation and enhancing detoxification. It also helps to relieve stress by maintaining healthy levels of cortisol in the body and has antibiotic and antifungal properties, which can further support its pain-relieving action.
- Beets- known within Ayurveda for building and cleaning the blood and the enhancing liver function, beets have been found to reduce pain through the anti-inflammatory action of its component of betalain.
Make sure you check with your doctor before making any dietary changes to ensure that they are consistent with your health needs overall.
8) Think happy thoughts. If you have forgotten your pain while absorbed in or distracted by an enjoyable moment, you have experienced the power of positive thinking. Though research is still underway, gratitude has been cited by people experiencing chronic pain as an effective pain-relief tool. Known to relieve stress, gratitude is hypothesized to also relieve pain by activating opioid receptors. In studies examining individuals keeping a gratitude journal, participants were found to report a 10% decrease in pain.
9) Rewrite your happy ending. Many times pain can be coupled with an event or series of events that your entire being have had a difficult time processing. Stress or trauma can get stored in such a way that we experience the emotional pain physically on a consistent and chronic level. To begin to manage pain from this angle it can be helpful to work with a qualified mental health professional. An activity that you can also do on your own, though does not replace professional mental health guidance, is to rewrite the timeline of your life in terms of positive highlights as well as the positive ways you may have overcome an obstacle and what you learned. Practice viewing yourself from this empowered vantage point by stopping negative self-talk as it arises, practicing compassion toward yourself when it does, and then replacing the thought process with a statement that resonates with your shifted timeline.
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