Living

Living with pain better (what’s helping me right now)

When we’re living with pain, it’s hard to be the nicest, kindest versions of ourselves. But what if we could live with pain better? A question I’ve been asking myself a lot recently.

Pain has been my constant companion for the last couple of months, and a frequent visitor for many years. These regular disruptions to normal service have pushed me to learn more about living with pain better.

And today, I’m sharing some of what I’ve learnt, what’s helping me live with pain better.

For me, pain tends to come in the form of back pain, sciatica and migraines. Yet the tips and reminders in this post have also helped with recent post-op recovery and might just be useful for any type of pain.

In this post, I mention a couple of courses I love. These are affiliate links, meaning if you click through and decide to buy I may earn a percentage of the sale. I’m sharing a few other products Iโ€™ve found helpful too, but these arenโ€™t affiliate links. Thanks in advance if you follow any of my links. I love sharing the resources Iโ€™ve found helpful and hope theyโ€™ll benefit you too ๐Ÿ™‚

Listening to our bodies

Pain is on a mission and it can be mighty persistent.

Whether it builds up slowly or hits like a bolt out of nowhere, pain seeks to consume our attention. And itโ€™s important we listen.

A messenger from within with critical system updates. Protecting us from further injury or reminding us of urgent matters weโ€™ve got to take care of. Whether itโ€™s guiding us to move or rest, to get help or treat our wounds, pain is our early warning system and emergency alarm. 

So, if you’re experiencing pain, please get it checked out by your own trusted health professionals. I’m not a doctor and this post is based on my own personal experience and research.

Leaning into what helps

Pain diverts our focus and resources, drains our patience and energy and threatens to suck the joy out of life. But we’ve got places to be and people to care for – hello, home-edding mama of four here ๐Ÿ™‚

The good news is we can learn to live with pain better, reducing it’s intensity and impact on our lives. But knowing what works is only the first step, we’ve got to take action, lean into what helps.

And that’s where this post comes in. Packed with practices and resources for living with pain better, and some handy hints for fitting them into your day.

Some bring comfort and relief immediately, while others will help ease pain long term. And maybe there’s the odd distraction technique too. But hey, if it helps, it helps ๐Ÿ™‚

And thatโ€™s my hope, to help you find some peace and respite from the pain.

So, letโ€™s get on with it…

Drinking more water

Let’s start with the fundamentals. Most of us are not drinking enough water. And what aggravates common causes of pain like headache and backache? Dehydration, that’s what!

I’m pretty good at remembering to drink water, usually. Yet when pain starts to niggle, it’s so easy to forget the simplest of good habits. Just when we need them the most.

So, first things first… fill up that water bottle, jug or glass and get drinking.

More on this…

14 reasons we should all be drinking more water

Helpful tips to drink more water, and just how much of it do we need?

Getting enough sleep 

Sleep might be all we want when a migraine hits. Yet it can be tricky to find the time for a nap, especially with young children.

But sometimes, it’s not the practical logistics that are our biggest hurdle.

You know what I’m talking about… yep, guilt ๐Ÿ™

Feeling we’re letting our family down can seriously get in our way and prevent us from taking the comfort and relief we need. The relief that ultimately serves our family better.

The quicker we recover, the sooner we’re back in the game. But not only that. We deserve to feel better, to take care of ourselves.

Imagining our child, or loved one, in pain, and how we want them to look after themselves, what we’d do or say to them, these are powerful tools to help us reframe and reject excuses and guilt.

Requests for help might feel like a gift to our family and friends. A chance to take care of someone they love. Sharing our struggles can bring us closer. Even when there’s no-one close by who can help, a phone call to a friend can lighten our mood and make pain easier to bear.

If going to bed isn’t an option, lay down on the sofa. Put on a movie or audiobook. Do whatever you can to take it easy and be kind to yourself.

While napping may help in the short term, a regular sleep pattern can improve our sleep long-term. Not only does it get easier to fall asleep, but we’re more likely to wake up refreshed and energised.

Planning to ‘catch the ten o’clock train’, aka be in bed for 10, even though I don’t manage it every night, has meant I generally get so much more sleep now than I used to.

And to help with sleeping well…

  • Sleeping with a pillow between your legs reduces stress on the body and is so comfortable. Not just for when we’re pregnant ๐Ÿ™‚
  • And before you go to sleep, laying on a back stretcher aka posture corrector can help relax body and mind.
  • And while we’re talking gadgets, my physio recommended this TENS machine. Works a treat whenever pain strikes.
  • Not forgetting the low-tech, humble hot water bottle. Any old one’ll do. But this wearable hot water bottle with a snuggly cover is especially handy for popping behind your back while working on the computer, so cosy and effective for easing aches and pain.
  • My dentist recently suggested trying these mouth guards to wear at night. It’s too early to say but we’re hoping these might reduce the migraines. If you’ve used them, I’d love to know if they helped.

Eating well

Another of those basics we can’t afford to ignore. Yet when we’re in pain, good nutrition is the last thing on our mind. It’s hard enough on the good days right?

Yet we’ve all got to eat and when we’re in pain, we need all the help and energy we can get. Just like dehydration, hunger is a common trigger for headaches and migraines.

But there’s a simple solution – menu planning. Yep, I said simple. Not easy ๐Ÿ™‚

Why is it menu planning triggers so much resistance?

Tell me I’m not alone. Or better still share your best tips for menu planning in the comments below.

Look out for a menu planning post coming soon, I’ll be sharing tips and tricks to get better at menu planning. But if you can’t wait…

Exercise and stretching

In general, I aim for 10,000 steps a day. But on the pain days, that’s like climbing Everest. Yet avoiding exercise altogether, at least for any length of time is no good for us either. Gentle exercise can be a great source of pain relief.

I love walking workouts on YouTube, you can see some of my favourites here. But recently I’ve discovered a new favourite fitness friend, Pahla B.

Pahla’s channel features regular monthly challenges, and a whole swarm of videos designed for specific health issues, fitness goals, strength-building and even pain relief. Pahla also shares her own journey with sciatica and what’s worked for her.

I’ve been using the exercises in this video each morning to get some standing stretches while waiting for the dog to come in from the garden…

But if you don’t have a furry friend demanding your attention first thing, maybe you could stretch to this morning routine? Okay, enough with the puns ๐Ÿ™‚

I tend to leave floor work until later in the day. If I can make the time I’m loving these guys…

They also have shorter videos, definitely worth checking out.

For quick relief and daily strength work I’m taking inspiration from the following two videos. My aim is to fit in a daily session, usually in the evening.

Meditation

I’ve tried meditation on and off for years and seen many benefits. Not only does meditation calm our mind and body, leaving us refreshed and positive about life. But it can even ease pain, in the moment and maybe for some time after.

But I’ve never made meditation a regular habit, until recently. For the last few weeks I’ve been meditating every day. Just 5 or 10 minutes before I get out of bed in the morning – making sure not to let that doggie know I’m awake ๐Ÿ™‚ – and again in the evening, just before I go to sleep. And I feel better for it. And, yes, I’ve fallen asleep once or twice during the later session, but surprisingly less often than I thought I might ๐Ÿ™‚

At the moment I’m enjoying guided meditations on YouTube, links to some playlists below. You could also try podcasts, meditation apps or Spotify playlists. Or just go it alone.

Staying positive

For effective healing it helps to stay positive. And while meditation is great for calming anxiety and fear, it can also help to get more intentional about our media consumption in general.

For me, reading news reports rather than watching television news, has certainly made it easier to bear, especially in this last year.

Setting an intention to be more positive is a fantastic start. But it’s not always that simple. In the face of mounting pain and discomfort we can easily find ourselves spirally into despair. Yet there’s so much support and inspiration out there. More on staying positive…

Self-soothing checklists : the secret to raising our mood and energy levels fast

Making over our mornings

Looking after ourselves and living with pain better can seem like soooo much work. And of course, it does take time and effort.

But what better use of our time and energy than taking care of ourselves. Surely it’s the best chance we have to get more time in the long run. Not only are we less likely to find ourselves knocked out of action for a while, but we’re upping our chances to live a longer and healthier life.

Setting up better systems and daily routines can help us make better use of the time we have.

Making over your mornings can be a powerful first step to reclaiming control of the chaos that pain inevitably brings. And Crystal Paine’s Make over your Morning course is designed to help us do just that. I first took this course a few years ago and discovered the joy of having a regular morning and evening routine.

But recently, life just felt out of whack, and my routines didn’t seem to be working as well. The habits and needs of my family had changed. I discovered some issues with my health that needed attention, and pain kicked in again, big time. I needed to re-make over my mornings, and I knew this course would get me back on track.

Each time I’ve taken the course I’ve been able to dig a little deeper and gain greater insight into how my morning routine can better serve me and my family better – hello meditation ๐Ÿ™‚

But Crystal doesn’t just talk about morning routines. She encourages us to think about our long term goals, and the actions we can take to reach these goals.

And one of my long-term goals, you won’t be surprised to hear, is to live with pain better (and hopefully reduce it where I can). This course helped me look at my day differently, and carve out time and space for the practices in this post. Look out for a full review coming soon.

If you’d like to find out more about Make over your Mornings, (or it’s companion, Make over your Evenings) and decide to buy, clicking on my links will mean, at no extra cost to you, I may receive a percentage of the sale. I paid full price for this course and found it super-helpful. I only recommend products I love and think you might too. Thanks in advance if you do click through ๐Ÿ™‚

Getting more support

For those times when we need more help to deal with the pain, homeopathy, physiotherapy, osteopathy and chiropractic care are all options worth looking into.

The following books gave me new perspectives on pain, and were both interesting and helpful. These links will take you to Amazon, but they aren’t affiliate links. Maybe your local library might have copies?

You Can Conquer Pain: How to break the pain cycle and regain control of your life

Mindfulness for Health: A practical guide to relieving pain, reducing stress and restoring wellbeing

I hope you’ve found this post useful and you’re able to find some comfort and relief from the pain. I’d love to know your best tips for living with pain better. Please share in the comments.

Thanks for stopping by. Gentle hugs all ๐Ÿ™‚

6 Comments

  1. Jane Ryan says:

    Hi
    Thank you for this helpful post and I feel for your pain as I am in a similar situation. I would love to know how you get on with the mouth GUARDS!

    1. Sorry to hear that Jane, but glad you found the post helpful. Hmmm, the mouth guards – theyโ€™re taking a little getting used to. Had mentioned to a friend that when I have a migraine I feel it in my teeth. As I had a dentist appt coming up, thought Iโ€™d just mention it, even though it seemed kind of weird ๐Ÿ™‚ But what do you know, apparently itโ€™s super common. Is it something youโ€™ve noticed too?

      1. Jane says:

        Hi hayley
        No not something I had noticed. I am seeing a maximum facial consultant this week to try and find out why I am getting so much face pain as had to go to A and E last night as was in agony but my dentist’s cant seem to find anything particular wrong with my teeth that was cause it.

        1. So sorry to hear that Jane, hoping that youโ€™ve managed to get some relief and more information now on what might be going on. Wishing you all the best ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Daisy says:

    Love itttt, such a good topic to talk about. Love the idea of imagining loved ones in your position and allowing them to help you as you would want to help them. Xx

    1. Thanks Daisy. Yes, I think that’s pretty powerful. Asking others for help and then actually allowing them to get on and help, it can feel so difficult sometimes. So glad you liked the post ๐Ÿ™‚

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