But instead of the typical resolutions, which always seem to get broken within the first month, consider setting some achievable goals that will not only lead to a happier you in 2017, but a more pain-free one, too!
- Weed out the negative Nancys in your life.“If the people in your life are demanding and not very supportive, then it could actually make things worse,” says behavioral health specialist Mary Papandria. Make your goal this year be to surround yourself with individuals who understand your situation and support you unconditionally. Whether this is friends, family members or even a support group dedicated to others in the same boat, seek them out and accept the support they offer. A strong support network can often make it much easier to cope with chronic pain.
- Banish pessimism. Negative thoughts – like “this pain is stopping me from living my life” or “I feel useless when I’m in so much pain” – don’t do anyone any good, especially you. Don’t let your negative thoughts and emotions overcome you in 2017. Make it a point to focus on the positive things happening in your life. One way to achieve this is to write a list of all the positive things happening in your life. Enjoy the company of your new grandchild? Write it down. Looking forward to a new movie or TV show this year? Add it to the list. Go over and add to the list every morning, or whenever you’re feeling down.
- Find little ways to incorporate activity. The problem with a lot of weight-related resolutions is that they’re too big. Something like “lose 30 pounds this year” is such a tall order that many people give up before they even really try. So start small; small changes can result in big outcomes. Make small resolutions for yourself – like working out three times this week, parking farther away from the store on two trips or taking the stairs instead of the elevator four times. These small goals – which are easier to accomplish – will result in a sense of accomplishment and will go toward helping you achieve your larger health and weight goals.
- Focus on your relationships. According to Dr. Papandria, “Oftentimes, those in pain become fixated on their pain. That’s all they talk about, think about, focus on. Their world becomes smaller and smaller … [and] they have little time or attention for other people in their lives.” This can lead to a myriad of relationship difficulties, especially amongst families. So in 2017, break the cycle. It starts with communication; tell your partner, friends and family what you need and encourage them to do the same. Just like your weight goals, set small relationship goals like two date nights or family game nights a month during which you won’t talk about your pain. If you’re still having difficulty, consider seeing a behavioral health specialist, who will be able to help you refocus your attention away from your pain and toward the people and things that really matter.
- Adopt a new hobby. There are times when your pain is all you can think about. But putting all your energy into thinking and worrying about it won’t help you feel better. According to Dr. Papandria, although it might seem difficult, try to refocus your attention away from the pain. That’s where a new hobby comes in. Pick something that’s all-consuming and will capture and hold your attention for long periods. Maybe it’s painting or quilting, learning to play the piano or finally learning to speak Italian; choose an activity that leaves no room in your brain to focus on your pain. Getting your brain off of it is often one of the best ways to deal with it – it may also help you bond with those you love and improve yourself and your skillset in the process.
- Get help. Knowing that you are doing all you can to reduce you pain is a comforting feeling. But many people have become so frustrated at doctors and treatments and the lack of successful outcomes that they’ve given up. This isn’t helpful – for you or your pain levels. Make it your goal in 2017 to get some answers – and get some relief. There are new, innovative treatment options for many complicated and chronic pain conditions; talk to your doctor about pain management or call (888) 901-PAIN to learn more about your options. Make 2017 the year of a healthier, happier, more pain-free you.