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2022 Is Here — “SMART” Resolutions for People With Chronic Pain

Are you looking for some New Year’s resolutions that you'll actually stick to? Worried about setting new goals in 2022, after last year’s resolutions fell by the wayside?

You are not alone! Due to the unpredictability caused by Coronavirus over the last couple of years, sticking to resolutions is tougher. In fact, many people gave up on resolutions altogether this year. A study from the United Kingdom showed that only 40% of people are making resolutions in 2022.

Yet, there are many upsides to making resolutions. Resolutions that match your belief system help you reach your goals and become a better version of yourself.

Contact National Spine & Pain Centers to schedule an appointment with an affiliated pain specialist today.

Why do resolutions fail?

A big problem with resolutions is being unclear about “why, how, and what” you’d like to change.

A second problem is overlying on motivation to carry through on a resolution.

Motivation is a strong emotion that makes us want to make positive changes in our lives. The problem with motivation is that it doesn’t last.

Studies show that 64% of people abandon their resolutions within the first month! Exhaustion, family commitments, work stress, and the pull of old habits can quickly drain all motivation.

The better way to make lasting change is toadopt a “SMART” resolution. Then, give yourself enough time to turn it into a new, positive habit.

How to make “SMART” resolutions

The “SMART" approach tells us that goals (resolutions) should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound.

For example, if you are trying to lose weight, follow the following steps:

  • Specific. Set a clear goal like “I want to lose a total of 10 pounds”.
  • Measurable. Track your progress by weighing yourself every week.
  • Achievable. You increase the odds of reaching your goal by starting small and allowing time to see results. Don’t expect to shed a lot of weight in the first week.
  • Relevant. Goals should be meaningful. If you suffer from arthritis, tell yourself, “I will lose weight because it takes the pressure off my joints."
  • Time-bound. Set a deadline for your goal but make sure that it is realistic.

“SMART" resolutions for people with chronic pain

New resolutions are challenging for just about anyone but are even harder for people with chronic pain (long-term pain).

Chronic pain triggers many other health problems like anxiety, depression, and fatigue. Therefore, resolutions are especially important for chronic pain sufferers as they face these extra challenges while trying to stay healthy and balanced.

If you have chronic pain and are at a loss trying to set resolutions for 2022, here are some suggestions:

  1. Find an accountability partner. Anxiety and depression are big concerns for everyone lately, and they are even greater issues for people with chronic pain. Finding an accountability partner can provide you with a support system and keep you grounded. An accountability partner may be a friend with the same resolution or a family member who is one phone call away when you need to vent.
  2. Change your diet. Eating healthy is a great resolution to start out the year. The results (increased energy) are felt right away! Eating healthier can help you lose weight, as well. The diet should be tailored to your specific pain issue. For example, a person with arthritis may want to decrease inflammatory foods like refined sugar (pie, candy) and dairy products (milk yogurt).
  3. Have a good sleep routine.Uncontrolled pain at night can increase your overall pain levels and throw off your sleep-wake cycle. Sleep is controlled by melatonin, a hormone released by the brain. To increase melatonin, get daily sunlight, work by a bright window. Caution should be used before using melatonin supplements. You should consult your doctor before taking melatonin as it is often marketed inaccurately. For a restful sleep, avoid phones/computers in the evening, have a set bedtime and keep your bedroom cool at night.
  4. Exercise. People with chronic pain spend more time resting and less time exercising. Unfortunately, being inactive even for a couple of days leads to joint stiffness and weakness. In addition, inactivity triggers new injuries like muscle strains and ligament sprains. People with chronic pain benefit from light exercise that is possible even on bad days (stretching, band exercises, walking).
  5. Visit your pain specialist regularly. It helps to keep in touch with your pain specialist. There may be a new procedure or safer medication alternatives that can help you. Tell your pain specialist about your current resolutions and they may have some helpful advice on how to stick with them.

The pain specialists at NSPC are here to help you along the way to a healthier and pain-free 2022. Click here for an appointment.

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