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How Improving Your Home Routines Can Alleviate Chronic Pain

How Improving Your Home Routines Can Alleviate Chronic Pain

A positive and productive relationship between doctors and their patients is critical. Forming and maintaining an atmosphere in which you feel comfortable and trust your physician to help you with important decisions is incredibly valuable to us at ReclaimAbility. To continue the pursuit of that goal, this is the beginning of a monthly series that will highlight our physicians and provide detailed information about their areas of expertise. This month, we’d like you to meet (or learn more about) Dr. Haleem!

Our motto for September is Learn & Succeed: put your plan into action. To help embody that mantra, we spoke to Dr. Haleem about chronic pain and how that impacts finding a balance between taking care of yourself and taking care of others, adjusting to a new home lifestyle due to the pandemic, and getting a good night’s sleep.

Self-Care When Others Need Care

As we transition out of summer and into colder temperatures, it’s critical to evaluate your self-care routine and make sure you’re taking preventative measures against chronic pain. Dr. Haleem links the worsening of pain during cold weather to dry and tighter muscles and tendons. He mentions that the change in atmospheric pressure worsens joint pain. In order to tackle the anticipated worsening of pain during the weather change, he provided a few recommendations:

  • Use a hot pack on your back for 10-20 minutes before stretching at least 3 times a day
  • Use warm/hot water in the shower to relax your mind and muscles
  • Hydrate! We tend to drink less water during colder seasons, which can increase the risk of muscle spasms
  • Ensure that you’re getting good quality sleep that allows your body to heal and relax
  • “Don’t let pain control you”—participate in physical activities you enjoy, even if you have to break the activities down into small portions. 

Taking care of yourself is invaluable, but what about the people around you? With chronic pain, being prepared is crucial in maintaining a healthy routine. Finding the right balance is essential in order to stay active, support the people around you, and still take care of yourself. This can be extremely challenging, as some of us focus so much on others that we forget to take care of ourselves. If you’re not at our best, you’re not able to provide the support others may need. That being said, it is equally important to ask for support. Especially with the ongoing pandemic and associated precautions, having a strong network of close people who can support each other and stay connected is extremely beneficial. 

Adapting to a New Home Lifestyle

Speaking of the pandemic, the current situation has created circumstances many of us have never encountered, making the adjustment a particularly difficult one. Working from home means that everyone else in the household is often present during work hours, which can make it tough to draw the line between work and home life—especially for parents. You have likely dealt with the struggles of working late into the night, but children have a hard time understanding your work dynamics because they’re used to getting attention when you’re home.

If this is an issue you’re still battling, Dr. Haleem recommends sitting your children down to have a conversation as if you were speaking to an adult. Let them know that although you are home, you have to dedicate certain sections of the day to work. He also mentions setting up activities for children so they are engaged in something positive without the dangers of hurting themselves. Having a camera to keep an eye on them also helps reduce your stress and keeps them safe. Your children will likely feel more comfortable because they know you’re watching and you’ll be able to focus on work, while still making sure they’re safe. 

You may think your children won’t completely understand the situation, but Dr. Haleem reminded us that children are often more perceptive than we give them credit for. Talking to them can also reduce their stress about the pandemic, resulting in a better overall household dynamic. In addition, regardless of whether or not you’re caring for children, do your best to finish work during work hours in order to institute balance in this area of your life as well—it’ll help you reduce stress and be more productive the next day.

Getting Good Sleep & Feeling Revitalized

With chronic pain, getting proper rest is a great way to generate positive momentum. There are many different factors that contribute to the quality of sleep and how you feel in the morning, but one that is often overlooked is stress. Dr. Haleem mentions that stressful thoughts going through your mind when you’re supposed to be asleep can make it harder for you to fall asleep. There are many stressful thoughts out there in today’s new normal. Here are some of his recommendations to reduce stress and other ways to improve sleep:

  • Distraction exercises at night can help clear your mind 
  • Cool temperature in your room, without making it too cold that you may get sick
  • Hydration/stretching in the morning and before you go to bed will help your body relax
  • Stay away from the television, computers, and tablets 2 hours before you sleep
  • No electronics in bed. This one is tough!
  • Only use your bed for sleep so when your mind sees the bed, it thinks of sleep and gets your body ready for it
  • Finding the right pillow is important! Use a firm pillow if you are a side-sleeper and use a soft pillow if you sleep on your back or your stomach 

Sleep has many different components, but if you improve on them individually to avoid getting overwhelmed, they can help you feel better throughout the day. Chronic pain can cause a variety of problems, but sleep is one way—in tandem with other practices—to reduce your pain.

Major Takeaway?

In all of Dr. Haleem’s recommendations, balance sits at the core. Don’t feel as if you must adhere to concepts of balance that you see on social media or hear from your friends. Balance is individual, so find what works best for you and alleviates your pain. We’re grateful for the abundance of useful information from Dr. Haleem and we hope you learned from it as well! Follow us on Instagram to stay updated with ReclaimAbility and we’ll see you here next month for more expert advice from another one of our doctors!