Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Don't Let Chronic Pain Keep You From Exercising Your Brain

I meant to write a blog post yesterday evening; however, I ended up with a huge headache that wouldn't go away.  After several hours of dealing with a pounding headache, I decided that writing a new blog post was going to have to wait.  Yesterday it dawned on me that most people who suffer from chronic pain or from an invisible illness no longer work or get out of the house unless they have too.  If you are out of work, you know that a majority of the time you are just sitting around  the house idle and don't engage in anything that challenges you mentally.  

Disclosure:  This post is for informational purposes only.  I am not a doctor, health care provider, or counselor.  If you have any health concerns, please talk to your doctor immediately.  The opinions reflected in this post are my own and may differ from your own opinions.

I know that I tend to sit around the house and watch tv, listen to music, play on the laptop or my phone, play games, read books, crochet, and write.  Most of these activities require very little thinking skills, except for writing, some days it is a challenge coming up with a topic to write about..  It is important that you stimulate your brain activity so that you keep your brain sharp.  Taking care of your brain is important, especially, if you take a bunch of medication to dull the pain.  

Keeping your mind active can help you manage and cope with your pain.  Most importantly daily activities can give you something to look forward to each and every day.  In fact, I just started reading books around the first of the year.  I wanted to find something to do that didn't require physical effort and that I could do when I was lying in bed awake at night.  I have found books to be a great way to pass the time.  Reading is not only fun but it can increase your vocabulary and you can live through the characters.  Often times, the characters draw you in and you begin to think and feel the way they did in the book.  

I have found a love for books that I haven't had before and my favorite books lately have been mystery books.  I find myself addicted to the story line and want to find out what is going to happen to the character next.  

What are some ways that you can keep your brain active and help decrease your chances of dementia related diseases, including Alzheimer's. 
  • Exercise - If you are still able to get some form of exercise, then try to stay as active as it is physically possible.  Find exercises that don't increase or aggravate your pain levels.  Any exercise you can do will  help increase the blood flow to your brain which encourages your brain to make new brain cells.
  • Eat Foods That Promote Healthy Brain Function - If you can't exercise due to increased pain, it is important that you eat healthy foods and maintain a healthy-balanced diet.  Eating healthy foods not only help keep your from gaining weight but you can even reduce your cholesterol levels and reduce your risk for other health problems.  Talk to your doctor or a nutritionist to determine which foods are best for you to eat, I know that some foods can aggravate people who have chronic pain.
  • Remain Socially Active -  Having a chronic illness or pain often times keeps many of us housebound.  I know that I tend to stay home unless I absolutely have to go some where, especially, during the week.  However, I try to remain as social as possible using my computer or cell phone.  Most people have access to social media and can maintain a healthy social life by bringing people into their home using the computer or a cell phone.  Social media is a great way to find people who have similar situations or interests.  In fact, you can even find support groups online and you can get to know other people who are in your shoes.  Being social allows you to help others and gives you the opportunity to have friends who understand you and your condition.  If your spouse works, he or she might not can communicate with you during the day.  Having other friends can keep you from getting lonely.  
  • Stay Mentally Active - It is important that you stay mentally active and find hobbies that help give your brain a workout.  Don't be one of the few people who spend all of their time laying around every single day and spend all of their time watching junk on television 24/7.  Instead, find other ways to stimulate your brain since you aren't working and don't have to solve problems on a daily basis.  Have you ever seen your grandpa or grandma working on crossword puzzles?  I remember that my grandpa loved working on the crossword puzzles that were put in the paper each day.  He would spend hours working on them and trying to solve it.  He did this to keep his mind sharp and it gave him something to do each day.  If you don't enjoy crossword puzzles, don't worry there are plenty of other ways to give your brain a mental workout.  Try these brain building activities: stay involved in the learning process and become a life-long learner, gardening, crossword puzzles, memory games, play games, attend plays or lectures, enroll in a class, learn a new skill, learn to play a musical instrument, read a book, don't drink alcohol, get enough sleep, vary your daily habits, ect.
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What is your favorite way to pass the time?