5 Ways to Live Well with Cancer Pain
Take Control of Your Cancer Pain
You don’t have to let cancer pain control you. In general, these 5 lifestyle changes can help you live an overall healthy life; and leading a healthy lifestyle can help you manage cancer pain symptoms.
- Eat a well-rounded, healthy diet. You’re already aware that basing your diet on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and healthy fats is one of the most important ways to lead a healthy lifestyle—especially when you have cancer pain (and cancer). Sometimes cancer treatments can lead to weight gain or weight loss—you may have a lack of appetite after chemotherapy and/or radiation, for example. That’s why high-quality meals are essential.
If you need to kick-start your appetite or just need tips on how to eat healthier, visit a registered dietitian who can help you plan nutritious meals.
- Exercise often. To keep your body strong throughout the duration of your cancer treatment, and even long after treatment has ended, exercise is key. It may be really tough to start, especially if you haven’t been active in a really long time, but once you get going, you may have more energy, thanks to the endorphin boost brought on by exercise. (Endorphins are opioid hormones released by your brain, and they put you in a good mood.)
But take it very slow—exercise isn’t something you want to jump into (especially if you’re low on energy, a common cancer symptom). Instead, you’ll want to ease yourself into an exercise routine. Over time, you’ll gradually build up your strength. .
Work with a physical therapist or personal trainer to help you get started with a gentle exercise plan.
- Get a massage. Massage is not only a good stress reliever, but it can also help alleviate cancer pain and decrease anxiety and fatigue. Although there are several massage techniques, stick with gentle massage. A gentle massage works your muscles and increases blood flow just enough to decrease body aches and other pain. After a few sessions, you should notice an overall difference in how you feel.
- Sleep well. A quality 8 hours of sleep each night can be hard to come by when you have cancer pain, but it doesn’t have to be difficult. To help you get back on track, try establishing a bedtime routine. You can take a bath or read (but limit TV and computer time) just before bed to ease you into dreamland. Also, get to bed and wake up at the same time every day.
If you’re still having trouble falling or staying asleep, your doctor can recommend other ways to get better sleep, such as sleep medications.
- Stop stress in its tracks. Stress can make cancer pain seem much worse; dealing with your stress effectively can help you manage cancer pain. Besides remembering to take slow, deep breaths to soothe your body and mind, you can try yoga, tai chi, and meditation and other relaxation techniques for stress relief. Set aside time every day to manage stress levels.
You don’t have to make these 5 lifestyle changes all at once. Take it slow. For example, you can start with making healthier changes to your diet and then gradually incorporating exercise and other lifestyle changes into your daily routine. Small steps can help you better manage your day-to-day cancer pain.