Everyone knows that the health of the world economy is not so good. But, have you checked your health lately? Now is a good time to assess ways to improve both your physical and mental condition, especially if you experience pain. Here are five steps to stimulate your health.
- 1) Nutrition: Did you know that some foods can help relieve pain? Many types of pain have one thing in common, inflammation (a fire within). That is why anti-inflammatory medications are the most widely used medications in the world. However, the body has a natural system to control inflammation. This system just needs to be fed with an anti-inflammatory diet. Omega 3's help to control inflammation, like found in flax seed and nuts. Some spices like turmeric and ginger can also help to control inflammation. Diets high in sugars (high glycemic load) and Omega 6 actually promote inflammation and pain. Much can be learned about nutrition. Much improvement in health can be gained in this area.
- 2) Kick the Habit: Bad habits can create or trigger pain. The biggest and worst habit of them all is smoking. Smoking reduces the available nutrition to all tissues; thus, healing is impaired, energy is limited, and all parts of the body are suffocated. Smoking is not the only bad habit that promotes pain. Caffeine is well known to trigger headaches, but it also feeds other painful conditions because it stimulates a stress response, adrenaline response in the body. Drinking coffee all day tricks the body into thinking it is being chased by a lion all day. Insomnia, fatigue, and pain are all part of this vicious, caffeine-driven cycle. And let's not forget another bad habit:alcohol consumption. Did you know that alcohol is one of the most common toxins that lead to painful neuropathies? Because alcohol can cause nerve damage, alcohol can lead to chronic pain. Old habits are hard to break, but living with less pain is worth kicking these habits.
- 3) Kick it into Gear: Pain leads to avoidance: avoidance of exercise, activities, work, and hobbies. Avoidance leads to depression, deconditioning, fear, anxiety, and pain. If this sounds like a familiar rut that you are stuck in, then consider making a change. Change comes gradually. First, find a baseline activity level that you can tolerate without causing extreme flare-ups. Then gradually increase your time of participation. Even if your baseline is 10 seconds, it is a starting point to kick your life into a different gear. As the weeks go by, the 10 seconds will grow to minutes and then hours. As the years go by, your health will improve with a more active life-style. With a move active life-style, you will sleep better, your bowels will work better, your circulation will improve, and you will feel better.
- 4) Learn Optimism: Is it possible to be optimistic while living with pain? Just saying the word "pain" provokes feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and despair. Now try saying the word "smile". You cannot help but smile when you say, "smile". Just a simple smile can provoke feelings of joy, happiness, and child-like curiosity. Yes, joy and pain can co-exist together. Optimism may take some practice though. Training the brain to experience joy when experiencing pain is definitely worth a try for the sake of your mental health. If you smile, people will respond to you differently. Next time you are out in public, concentrate on smiling. You will be amazed how differently everyone reacts to you. You may even get a hug or a smile in return. Optimism is infectious and good for everyone's health.
- 5) Get a check-up: Prevention is worth a pound of cure. Evaluate your risks (based on your history, your family history, and your age) and get appropriate diagnostic and screening tests. Sometimes being in chronic pain leads to a lack of vigilance or leads to neglect of the other, non-painful body systems. Thyroid problems, vitamin deficiencies, and diabetes can all sneak up on you if you are not watching out for them. A good yearly assessment of all the important systems can help you maintain good health for years to come.
Stimulating your health might be what your body is signaling you to do. If you are thirsty, you drink water. If you are hungry, you eat food. If you need to urinate... well, you get the picture. What is your pain signaling you to do? Pain is a signal, an alarm system that is motivating you to do something because of a perceived threat. Thirst signals dehydration and motivates you to drink. Hunger signals a lack of food and motivates you to eat. Pain signals harm and motivates you to do something.