Coping With Chronic Pain? 3 Bad Habits to Avoid Developing

Posted January 19, 2024 by in Health + Fitness

Coping with chronic pain is a formidable challenge, a daily journey that demands resilience and fortitude. In the pursuit of relief, some individuals unknowingly develop habits that can exacerbate their pain and hinder the overall healing process. Withdrawal symptoms, both physical and emotional, often accompany chronic pain, tempting individuals to adopt unhealthy coping mechanisms.

This article explores three common bad habits to avoid when coping with chronic pain.

Self-Medicating with Food or Substances

One common but unhealthy coping mechanism for chronic pain is self-medicating with food or substances. It’s easy to turn to comfort foods or rely on alcohol and other substances to numb the pain temporarily. However, this habit often leads to long-term negative consequences, both physically and emotionally.

Emotional eating, especially with high-calorie, low-nutrient foods, can contribute to weight gain and other health issues. Excessive alcohol or substance use may not only worsen pain symptoms but also interfere with prescribed medications, potentially leading to harmful interactions. Additionally, these habits can foster a cycle of dependency, making it harder to break free from the clutches of chronic pain.

Instead of resorting to self-medication through food or substances, individuals should consider seeking support from healthcare professionals, such as pain management specialists or psychologists. Developing healthier coping mechanisms, such as mindfulness, meditation, or engaging in enjoyable activities, can contribute to better long-term outcomes.

Avoiding Exercise

When chronic pain becomes a constant companion, the inclination to avoid physical activity can be strong. While it’s essential to listen to your body and adapt exercises accordingly, avoiding exercise altogether is a counterproductive habit. Regular physical activity is crucial for maintaining flexibility, strength, and overall well-being.

Engaging in low-impact exercises, such as swimming, yoga, or walking, can help manage chronic pain by improving circulation, reducing inflammation, and promoting the release of endorphins – the body’s natural painkillers. By neglecting exercise, individuals risk exacerbating muscle stiffness and joint pain, contributing to a decline in physical function over time.

It’s advisable to consult with healthcare professionals to develop a personalized exercise plan that suits individual needs and limitations. Physical therapists can guide individuals through safe and effective exercises tailored to their specific conditions, promoting a healthier and more active lifestyle.


Smoking is a habit with well-documented health risks, but its connection to chronic pain is often underestimated. Smoking not only damages the lungs and cardiovascular system but also contributes to chronic pain conditions. Nicotine, the addictive substance in cigarettes, can heighten pain sensitivity and interfere with pain medications, making it more challenging to manage discomfort.

Moreover, smoking exacerbates conditions such as arthritis and fibromyalgia, leading to increased inflammation and reduced mobility. Breaking free from the smoking habit is a crucial step in managing chronic pain effectively and preventing further health complications.

Coping with chronic pain requires a holistic approach that emphasizes healthy habits and a proactive mindset. Steering clear of self-medicating with food or substances, avoiding exercise, and quitting smoking are essential steps toward managing pain more effectively. By breaking these detrimental habits, individuals can work towards a healthier and more fulfilling life, guided by informed choices and a commitment to overall well-being.

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