5 Daily Habits to Reduce Pain

If pain is part of your daily life, you're not alone and you're not helpless. Millions of people who suffer from arthritis, migraines, fibromyalgia, back pain, and other chronic pain conditions live with some level of pain every day.

Those who function the best know there are many things they can do to live well and thrive, despite their condition. We've got five daily habits to help reduce pain and make the best of your challenging situation.

1. Sleep

A good day starts with a good night's sleep. Sleep is the body and mind's repair kit. We need both quantity (at least eight to nine hours) and quality (deep and uninterrupted) sleep to wake up refreshed and able to handle whatever the day throws at you.

The National Sleep Foundation says, "If sleep is cut short, the body doesn't have time to complete all of the phases needed for muscle repair, memory consolidation, and release of hormones regulating growth and appetite." But often, pain makes good sleep difficult. Practice good sleep hygiene techniques:

  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol.
  • Have a soothing bedtime routine, regular sleep, and wakeup times.
  • Keep your bedroom cool, dark, and reserved for sleep and sex only.
  • Dial down the technology, television, stressful reading materials, exercise, or any other mentally stimulating activities a couple of hours before bedtime.
  • If you still have trouble sleeping, talk to your doctor about other ways to achieve restfulness.

2. Exercise

Regular aerobic, strength training, balance, and flexibility exercises are key to keeping muscles, bones, nerves, and the heart in tip-top condition. It also keeps  joints lubricated, reduces stress hormones, increases endorphins, and improves sleep. Schedule it into your daily calendar and make exercise a top priority.

3. Meditation

Studies show meditation has a powerful effect on the mind's ability to reduce pain. Mindfulness meditation practices (like simple breathing techniques) have been proven particularly effective in training the brain to be more present-focused and spend less time anticipating future negative events. Meditation is also effective at reducing the recurrence of depression, which makes chronic pain considerably worse.

Meditation is easy and appropriate for everyone, regardless of health status, age, or religion. There are countless books and websites that teach easy meditation techniques to improve your health and well-being immediately.

4. Nutrition

Make every meal an opportunity to nourish your body with everything it needs to heal and thrive.

  • Increase your fruit and vegetable intake.
  • Kick out the junk food.
  • Stock up on whole grains, nuts and seeds, lean proteins, and low fat dairy products. 
  • Focus on all the good foods you can eat instead of the foods you shouldn't.
  • Learn new ways to prepare healthy food with new cooking techniques, recipes, and foods you've never tried before.

5. Do Something New

Distraction is a powerful tool for reducing pain. People who focus on their pain feel it more intensely while people who keep themselves busy and focused on something else, feel it less. 

  • Start a new hobby. Learning something new like knitting or a new language, activates different parts of the brain than those located in the pain center. It keeps you engaged, challenged, and takes your mind of the pain.
  • Reach out to help someone else. There's no better way to keep your situation in perspective than to help someone in need. Sign up to help at the local food bank, your church, a local school, or some other favorite charity. It'll keep you busy, connected in your community, and give you a chance to give your best to others. 




Science Daily.com. "Meditation Reduces the Emotional Impact of Pain, Study Finds." June 2010. Web.

National Sleep Foundation