By Michael J. Kellis, DO, FAOASM, Precision Orthopaedic Specialties, Inc.
Step 1 Accept the fact that tension can produce pain or worsen your present pain. Extinguish your tension and extinguish your pain! Negative emotions play a role in producing illness and pain. Worry, anxiety, anger, and fear are emotions that cause the hormone-producing glands to send destructive information to your cells, which could subsequently bring on pain and disease.
Step 2 Pray daily and accept that your life is cradled in the hands of the creator. Prayer changes things! Studies at Harvard Medical School have shown the positive effects of prayer on our bodies, stimulating a healthful, psychological change. This positive energy has also helped people to feel better and to accept the problems of life with a healthier attitude.
Step 3 Drink 6 to 8 glasses of water per day for proper body function. Remember that the body is comprised of mostly water. Hydration is vital to our survival. Low hydration levels can cause problems to many of our organs. Substitute water for soda-pop, coffee, or alcohol. Remember that caffeine depletes our bodies of water. For each caffeinated drink you consume, try adding another glass of water to stay properly hydrated.
Step 4 Exercise daily! You don’t need fancy equipment. All you need is a good pair of shoes and motivation. Always start off slowly and then advance to your tolerance. A walk to the mailbox is a great start. At the grocery store, park away from the building and take the extra steps. Walk the golf course, don’t ride! Studies show that walking is one of the best exercises to help get us into shape.
Step 5 Excess weight can cause your back and joints to ache. Control your weight to reduce your pain and inflammation. Eat five small meals a day. Avoid late-night snacks and fatty desserts. Instead eat fresh fruits and vegetables with each meal. Remember, to lose weight, you must eat less and exercise more. It’s that simple!
Step 6 Limit your caffeine intake to two cups per day. Although both coffee and tea contain beneficial antioxidants, too much of either is not good. Studies show that excessive consumption of coffee or tea can cause mild levels of dehydration, which can slow the healing rate of our bodies. The key is everything in moderation, including caffeine.
Step 7 Don’t smoke! Smokers simply do not heal well. In addition to the increased risk for heart disease and lung cancer, nicotine and cigarettes slow down the body’s response to healing. Many surgeons avoid performing surgeries on smokers for this reason. The white blood cells have also been shown to be less aggressive in fighting disease in people that smoke, increasing the chance for infection.
Step 8 Laugh every day! Laughter releases endorphins from the brain which helps people to heal faster. Pain also diminishes in the presence of high endorphins. To relieve pain, take two doses of “The Three Stooges” and call me in the morning! Remember not only to laugh at comedians, but to also laugh at yourself. You’re human, you will error. Laugh about it! Laughter brightens your day so that you can brighten someone else’s day.
Step 9 Hug everyone you see (within reason)! Studies show that human touch is necessary to heal, to thrive, and to live. Studies also show that doctors that touch each and every patient have a higher success rate for reducing pain and improving disease. Babies that are not touched do not thrive. Conversely, when they begin to be touched, they begin to thrive!
Step 10 Forgive yourself and others. Do not hold grudges. Do not internalize emotions such as hatred, anger, or anxiety. These emotions start to fester internal wounds, which can lead to physical wounds such as stomach ulcers, esophageal reflux, and even cancer. There is a large body of evidence showing that our emotions play a role in disease, health, and even pain. Remember to let go of anger, hatred, and anxiety. This can be accomplished by re-directing our energies from the negative to the positive. Forgive and forget. When we forgive, a large weight miraculously drops from our shoulders.
Repeat steps 1 through 10 as needed!!