The first time I experienced burning nerve pain was on the way to my uncle Jack’s ranch in Northern California for some summertime fun with my family. With the kids and dogs piled in our Suburban, I was in excruciating and unbearable burning nerve pain from the neck down. We would only drive for thirty or forty minutes before I would ask if we could pull over. I would get out of the car, lay in the grass, and cry. Then I would get back in the car and we would repeat the process. What should’ve been an eighteen-hour drive turned into three long painful days filled with stress and anxiety for everyone involved. It was the beginning of a very dark time for me as well as for my whole family. I really could have used 7 tips for managing chronic pain for maximum summer fun.
7 Tips for Managing Chronic Pain for Maximum Summer Fun
Summertime is different now for me and my family, thank goodness! I have learned several different ways of managing my pain. We enjoy trips frequently as a family and make many beautiful memories together despite the same pain. You CAN learn methods for managing your pain that make it a completely different experience. Here are my top seven tips for making summertime fun enjoyable and memorable, even while living with chronic pain.
Plan ahead. I know that if I take breaks and exercise during a long car trip, I do much better. How long will you be away? What conditions do you need to plan for? If you know you will get hungry, it is important to take healthy snacks. Think about what you will need to stay comfortable along the journey: will you need a jacket, backpack, walking buddy, or maybe a more comfortable pair of shoes?
Pace yourself. It is so important to listen to your body. When you need a break, take one. Take the time to practice mindfulness, enjoy the sunshine, live in the moment and allow your body to relax. Your family will appreciate you being there and taking breaks vs. staying at home.
Remember to breathe. This can be incorporated into your breaks or just when you feel the pain start to become overwhelming. Calm your body down with some deep breaths from the diaphragm. This calms your parasympathetic nervous system and it also lets your body know that you are intentionally moving around for some fun.
Keep your head in the game. For me, it’s helpful to remember that I made a choice. I can go on the activity with my family and be part of the fun, which may increase my pain, or not, but it’s MY choice. Remembering that it’s my choice to engage in the activity helps me keep my head in the game when things get rough.
Be safe. Take essential items you need to keep yourself safe during your activity. My husband calls these “Becksessories.” If we are all going on a long walk, I need my water backpack, my walking stick, and maybe a hat. Of course, different people require different items to help make their favorite hobbies safe and enjoyable. What are some things you might need to keep yourself safe during your trip or activity?
Stay Hydrated. When dealing with chronic pain while trying to join in on the fun, we often forget to take care of our body’s wants and needs. Water is essential and staying hydrated helps your body manage pain better. Make sure to take a water bottle with you, maybe with an encouraging quote on it. Or you could carry a water backpack like I do, which helps you stay hands-free while being active.
Enjoy the little things. I don’t have to go on a long two-week trip to enjoy summertime fun. An afternoon drive to the lake, a short hike to a waterfall, enjoying the stars from our backyard all rejuvenate and refresh me.
These are just a few tips that help me stay active in the summer and with my family. What activities refresh you during the summer months? How are you having fun this summer? We would love to hear from you and hear about your summer activities and adventures while living with chronic pain. For more info on how heat impacts chronic pain, read this article from Very Well Health.
Also, here our blog on 6 ways to slow your roll for less pain. Taking it slow can really help with the daily challenges of living with chronic pain.
To learn more about Take Courage Coaching, our pain coaching services or our upcoming classes, please visit TakeCourageCoaching.com