Chronic pain

The 2019 holidays are right around the corner. Thanksgiving is THE most traveled holiday of the year. Today’s Seattle Times reported “this Thanksgiving 55.3 million people are expected to travel by car, plane and train across the United States…1.6 million than last year”. You may think “WOW, I don’t want to be on the road, at the airport or train station this year”, but for individuals who suffer with chronic pain, the crowds are only one source of stress.

Here are a few tips to help reduce the stress and help you have a fun trip with your friends and family.

  1. Drink plenty of water. If you become dehydrated you are more likely to get migraines and increase your pain levels, so fill a water bottle and drink it throughout the day. 
  2. Pack all of your meds and backups and take in a carry on. Of course, you need your meds, but think about what medication you use when the pain becomes unbearable. You probably have backup medication that needs to be packed as well.
  3. Verbalize your pain. NO one wants to be a party pooper but if your experiencing pain, it is important to tell your friends and family that you are hurting and just need a break. Your friends and family aren’t mind readers and unless you tell them how you are feeling, they will just continue with their regular plans. If they know you are struggling, they can adapt plans to make it easier and more enjoyable for you.
  4. Prepare to be comfortable. Bring a travel pillow, fold-up blanket, eye mask to help you find comfort on a long journey.
  5. Move. On a plane or train, get up and move whenever you can. Stop at rest stops every hour or so and get out of the car, walk to the restroom and back. Take the time within a busy vacation schedule to stretch and walk. Exercise is good for chronic pain. We know that moving helps the pain.
  6. Nutrition. You probably know what foods cause your flare-ups. I know if I increase my sugar intake, I am going to have problems. As difficult as it is, in the long run, it is easier to cut back on flare up foods that be miserable. Chronic pain doesn’t go on vacation, you do. It is all about Choice and Control. What I choose, controls my pain levels.
  7. Sleep. As you sit and visit or play with family and friends, the time flies. You probably know how much sleep you need, but on vacation, it is sometime hard to keep your regular sleep schedule. While you don’t want to sleep away the day, you know you probably need a minimum of 8 hours to help with pain. Take short naps if needed.

Sleep, eat, hydrate and exercise will not only help your chronic pain, but help you overall enjoy the time you have this holiday season with your family and friends.

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