According to the American Academy of Pain Medicine (AAPM), pain affects more Americans than diabetes, heart disease, and cancer combined. In fact, it is estimated that 116 million Americans are supposedly suffering from chronic pain from major conditions. The overwhelming majority of these pain victims are men and somehow we are expected to still do the hard lifting and the ‘manly things’.
How does dealing with a sore back feel? What about whining about pain each time your kids jump on you to play? Not a good place to be in, right?
Hopefully, these tips will help you cope better, keep your smile, and remain a good team member, husband or father.
1. Cut Back On Alcohol and Stick to Prescription
Drink away the pain? Not a good idea. Excessive alcohol intake has its general disadvantages. And when alcohol is taken as a means of self-medication for chronic pain, it can become disastrous altogether.
Pain makes sleep difficult, and alcohol can make sleep problems worse. If you’re living with chronic pain, drinking less or no alcohol can improve your quality of life.
2. Don’t Smoke. It Can Worsen Chronic Pain
Smoking can worsen painful circulation problems… and increase the risk of heart disease and cancer.
3. Reduce Stress Inducing Activities
I understand that as men we are often expected to get stuff done the hard way. But there is no rule anywhere that things must be done the hard way, especially when you are having a hard time coping with pain in your body.
It may be time for you to employ some more staff to man the business and reduce the work you do yourself. Perhaps employ a manager to manage the business and report to you. While this might cost a fair bit, your health is worth that price. Too many have dropped dead… you don’t want to be in that number.
If you are an employee and stressed and in pain working for others, depending on how severe your pain is, you may even need to take the drastic step of leaving your job entirely. Dust off that old tired talent of yours and start considering ways it can make you money. Yes, this may be the time to finally move from employee to entrepreneur and make your time and schedule your own.
Also, negative feelings like depression, anxiety, stress and anger can increase the body’s sensitivity to pain. By learning to take control of stress, you will definitely get some relief.
4. Invest In Pain Relieving Items And Gadgets
For a low cost, you can invest in some items that will help reduce the pain you feel. From posture pins, to knee cuffs, you can find a number of items that can help you cope better with the pain you feel.
For instance, investing in adjustable beds that are specially designed to relieve pain, or water beds and inflatable couches will go a long way into introducing some comfort into your life.
5. Track Your Pain Level and Activities Every Day and Plan Accordingly.
To effectively treat your pain, your doctor would usually want to know how you’ve been feeling between visits. Keeping a log of your daily pain score from 0-10 will help you track your pain.
Also, note what activities you did that day that could possibly be the cause of that degree of pain. Take this log book to every doctor’s visit — to give your doctor a good understanding of how you’re living with chronic pain and your physical functioning level.
Also based on your observations, plan the activities that you care most about for the periods of the day when you feel less pain. If you are worried about losing fatherhood points, then the times when you are in less pain may be a good time to take the kids to the park or work out with the Mrs.
Your loved ones can cope with the times when the pain makes you unavailable if they share in what time you do have available.
6. Find Ways to Distract Yourself From the Pain
When you focus on pain, it makes it worse rather than better. Instead, find something you like doing — an activity that keeps you busy and thinking about things besides your pain.
You might not be able to avoid pain, but you can take control of your life.
Listening to soothing, calming music can lift your mood — and make living with chronic pain more bearable. There are even specially designed relaxation tapes or CDs for this.
Mental imagery relaxation (also called guided imagery) is a form of mental escape that can help you feel peaceful. It involves creating calming, peaceful images in your mind.
7. Support Groups and Family are Vital
The need for fellowship for someone struggling with chronic pain cannot be overemphasized. A few men have resorted to substance abuse and when they do not go that way, they become easily irritable and lash out at friends and family.
Don’t let pain rob you of the things that really matter, family and friends. Know that your family and most especially your spouse and kids suffer with you on another level. Discussing your pain with people dealing with same or who have dealt with the same will always reveal far more nuggets than I have shared here and will create a great and supportive atmosphere at home.
Photo credit: Getty Images