Doing a little more and a little less.
These might be the components of successful New Year’s Resolutions for everybody, especially those in the pain community.
Why do people fail to stick with their resolutions? For many, their goals are too ambitious; it is too challenging to make massive changes all at once.
Instead, we encourage you to make incremental changes that can have staying power.
For pain patients, consider choosing from any of or all of these small changes:
- Drink one more glass of water a day. First of all, the 8 glasses of water is a myth. For the most part, you should drink when you are thirsty and you’ll be fine. However, remember that water is the best drink with which to hydrate your body. So, consider substituting water for coffee, soda, juice or milk. If you drink no glasses of water a day, start with just one. Drink a glass of water before your morning coffee or with it or to replace your second one.
- Be physically active for 30 minutes per day. This can mean parking five minutes from your office door, so you add ten minutes of walking. It can mean taking a break during the day to stretch or do light weightlifting. It can mean walking the dog for longer in the evening, or walking in place or doing calisthenics during your evening screen time.
- Take 100 extra steps each day. It’s not much. But it’s a measurable and achievable goal.
- Do one less thing that you currently feel obligated to do. Pain patients need to spread out their time of activity and reduce stress; it is critically important for pain patients. You’d be surprised what really doesn’t have to get done. hat church event that you have chaired…maybe it’s time to train your successor. The family dinner that you regularly host will be just as enjoyable if you don’t cook it yourself. The golf game at 7:30 a.m. isn’t truly mandatory.
- Spend five minutes a day noting your physical and mental state. Keep a journal with old-fashioned pen or paper or in your smart phone. Keep track of how much pain you are experiencing from a scale of 1-10 (ten being the worst). Also jot down what your anxiety level is.
- Keep a food and drink diary for one week. Lots of people have pain this correlates to certain food and beverages, but they can never get a handle on it, because they have no data.
- Schedule one complete physical. Let your physician spend the time to go over all of your health issues and pain complaints.
- Do one thing you enjoy. To heck with the rest of them. Whether it’s a movie that nobody else likes, a museum that you can’t get your spouse to visit with you, or going out with a friend whom only you like, just do something that makes you happy.
- Get 30 more minutes of Go to bed a half an hour earlier than normal. Turn all the screens off, even if you depend on them to lull you to sleep and just relax in your bed until sleep overtakes you.
This year, resolve to make small changes that can add up to improved health, and we hope, to decreased pain.