(This blog post was originally published on March 4th, 2020)
Have you experienced this? Before your eyes fully open, your brain recognizes the throbbing that is your aching body. For me, it is like a Hulk size monster crushing my body deep into the mattress, which mas as well be quicksand. My limbs are pulled down by an invisible force, in that pre-waking state it feels like any movement is impossible. It is an avoidance mentality at its ultimate height. If I just don't move, maybe the pain monster won't see me and go squish someone else today. He never does, my recognition of the pain makes him tighten his grip. Despite, my whispered prayers, groans of frustration, I know I have to move, the world is not going to stop for me. There is still housework to be done, pets to feed and exercise (thank you to the inventor of puzzle toys for dogs, is asking your receive sainthood too much?), clients to work with, research to be done. More importantly, a family to care for and somewhere in the day; is there time for self-care? You absolutely must care for yourself, especially if you have children who are learning how to adult by watching you.
It’s not the years, honey. It’s the mileage.
~ Indiana Jones
So 5 things to break the cycle;
1. Understand Your Pain -
IF YOU HAVE CHRONIC PAIN CONSULT YOUR DOCTOR! I have a neuromuscular disorder that is under care by my doctor. However, the source of my pain is the lack of care for my body throughout my life. The term "inflammaging" is not very scientific but is actually true the older our bones and joints the more prone to inflammation and the inflammation can become so generalized all over your body, that over time you do not feel it creep up on you.
So what are some things can age our body faster or create inflammatory responses?
- Meats high in purine (eating "high on the hog" is a term from prior generations but it is still the same process)
- Fried foods
- Rich sauces
I had gout while going through my divorce and working in car sales. That was not just a case of 1+1=2 factors compounded in terms of exponential response from my body it was like it was screaming:
"YOU ARE HURTING ME AND IF YOU DO NOT STOP & LISTEN, I WILL INTRODUCE TO KARMA!"
I had a talk with my manager Rob, after returning to work from a doctor's appointment that my doctor told me to cut back on booze, coffee, and fried foods. He looked at me confused and asked: "He knows you work in car sales right?" we laughed but next time you go car shopping look for the "puffy factor" in your salesperson. I am hoping your lifestyle does not look like that, but it is a fairly simple visual for you to get a grasp of. So we have pain, we were hard on our bodies, we can not stop aging, how do we stop the decline?
2. Nourish Your Body -
The first thing is yes you have all of the power you need to reverse a lot of the inflammatory responses and pain. If you have missed reading the New York Times Bestseller "How Not to Die" by Dr. Michael Greger you can check the free videos and resources from Nutrition Facts, his daily dozen makes it so simple to follow alternative. You can fight pain without drugs.
3. Practice Mindfulness -
Sometimes at the moment, we can over analyze and you can call it "making a mountain out of a molehill" or a "storm in a teacup" but that's not generally helpful when you are in pain and you worry, what If I can not go to work tomorrow, maybe you have a boss, parent, obnoxious co-worker or sibling who is always ready to give you their personal advice on how lazy you are, just eat cranberries, stop worrying get more exercise... you know who I am talking about right? here is the thing, these people DO NOT LIVE IN YOUR BODY AND FEEL YOUR PAIN! You can say thank you, I'll take that in. But at that moment, when fear of how your pain may or may not impact your day. Stop what you are doing. Really,
The moment you are in will provide something to be grateful for. "I am here now, I can rest, ice, elevate, meditate, pat my dog or cat, talk to a friend (the ones who do not give unsolicited advice) and just be in the moment. If you are alone and struggling, you are alive! There is hope and promise for new adventures.
"We may encounter many defeats but we must not be defeated."
- Maya Angelou, author and poet (b. 1928)
4. Hydrate Wisely -
Sleep is tough when you have chronic pain, so you need to be smarter than the pain! Stop drinking alcohol, caffeine 2 hours before bed. You can do it, no food either. Take the opportunity to hydrate or if you need more flavor, non-caffeinated herbal teas are great! You could even try a turmeric tea or others that help reduce inflammation. A study 2017, that looked at 206 Americans with rheumatoid arthritis reported that 63% saw improvement with using non-vitamin supplements and turmeric was the most popular one. BUT BUYER BE AWARE, it is hard to get the right dose and in a way that your body can absorb it. Most research in adults supports the safe use of 400 to 600 milligrams (mg) of pure turmeric powder three times daily, or 1 to 3 grams (g) daily of grated or dried turmeric root. Grating the turmeric yourself is the best way to ensure a pure product.
"Turmeric tea can be prepared from either pure turmeric powder or grated or ground, dried turmeric. Fermented turmeric preparations, commonly sold as tea products, claim to have higher concentrations of biologically available or absorbable curcumin.
The steps to follow for making turmeric tea are:
boil 4 cups of water
add 1 to 2 teaspoons of ground, grated, or powdered turmeric
allow the mixture to simmer for approximately 10 minutes
strain the tea into a container and allow it to cool for 5 minutes
Many people put additional ingredients into their turmeric tea to improve the taste or help with its absorption. Common additives include:
Honey, to sweeten the tea and give the mixture more anti-microbial properties.
Whole milk, cream, almond milk, coconut milk, or 1 tablespoon of coconut oil or ghee (unclarified butter) to help with absorption, as curcumin requires healthy fats to dissolve properly.
Black pepper, which contains piperine, a chemical known to help promote curcumin absorption, and that can add a spice flavor to the tea.
Lemon, lime, or ginger, to enhance antioxidant and antimicrobial properties in the mixture and improve the taste.
5. Sleep -
AS I write this my family is sleeping, but I am writing in my office, with a soothing candle burning, drinking water. I have taken a small dose of melatonin. Why Melatonin? Melatonin is a hormone that exists naturally in your body's main job in the body however some people have lower doses in their system. Its role is to regulate night and day cycles or sleep-wake cycles. Darkness causes the body to produce more melatonin, which signals the body to prepare for sleep. Light decreases melatonin production and signals the body to prepare for being awake. Some people who have trouble sleeping have low levels of melatonin. It is thought that adding melatonin from supplements might help them sleep. So also, in my office, the main light is off and only my lamp is on. Avoiding TV, your phone, device what electronic rectangle-shaped device that keeps you connected to the world stimulates your brain with lights and all kinds of distractions. Step away from all screens, even if it is an evening ritual to bathe, shower, wash your face apply lotion, spritz your pillow with a soothing scent. I love to add lavender oil to my bath. That routine of not eating close to bedtime, drinking water decreasing the light levels (which save you on your electricity bill too) are all signals for my body to prepare to let go, to rest to set aside the problems of today for answers can be revealed tomorrow. Pain is a signal from your body to pay attention, sleep is when your body's natural repair system kicks in. So do not mess with it, empower what you have naturally within you and sleep.
And on that note my friends I am off to bed myself. Live your life drug free!
If you need help developing strategies to cope with pain in more detail for yourself or a loved one please email me at [email protected]
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