This month on the Holistic Pain blog, we talked about some of the ways to kick off 2016 with purpose, planning, and preparation.

New Year’s shouldn’t be a time to set lofty, unreachable resolutions. It should instead be a time of reflection. What more do you want out of life? How can you incorporate better habits and practices into your daily life? Where do you want to be at the end of 2016 and what do you need to start doing now to get there?

It was with this in mind that we focused our blog posts this month.

1. Create goals that are SMART and take into account current habits 

Breaking a habit is difficult. This is doubly important when that habit is something that makes us momentarily feel really good, such as smoking or eating unhealthy foods. For 2016, we encouraged you to think about the ways you already live your life and create goals that work with, rather than against, your current habits.

We first introduced the idea of the SMART goal in the post “Go SMART: How To Create Goals You’ll Keep All Year.” SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Assignable, Realistic, and Time-Based. To illustrate this: setting a goal to be in less pain in 2016 isn’t quite SMART. It doesn’t explain how you’ll do so, what success will look like, or how you’ll measure progress. A SMART goal may instead look like: try out one new holistic pain practice, such as acupuncture or yoga, every month and create programs for continuing those that helped reduce my pain.

We delved even further into the idea of changing habits, rather than setting unrealistic and destined to fail goals, in our post “How Do We Actually Change Our Habits?” As we noted in that post:

“The good news is that you can change your habits. Contrary to popular belief or what you might think, habits are not stagnant creatures we are doomed to carry around for the rest of our lives. But they are also not generally changed overnight. The act of changing habits has many stages, and there are concrete ways to improve your chances of actually sticking with the changes you make.”

We brought these two ideas, creating SMART goals and changing habits, together to help tackle one of the largest habits to change: smoking. If you smoke, make 2016 the year you quit.

It’s not easy. It will take time. You will fail on your path to success. However, quitting smoking can be one of the best things you can do for your overall health and to reduce pain levels. Find out a strategy for quitting in our post “Quit Now: Kick Your Smoking Habit For Good.”

2. Incorporate more exercise and activity into your everyday life 

Starting a new weight-training program or fitness class routine is important; however, it’s also important just to get more activity into your everyday life.

Our post “14 Ways To Get In More Exercise At Work” tackled some of the ways you can easily incorporate activity into your work routine. Suggestions ranged from standing phone calls, walking meetings, chair yoga, to treadmill desks. All of the ideas can immediately and easily be incorporated into your routine, with little hassle. The end result is a more active and energetic workday!

One of the easiest ways to simply get moving more is to install a standing desk. An object at rest is more likely to stay at rest. A person who is already standing is more likely to walk around a bit on a call or take a quick stretch.

Standing desks can be highly-designed, customizable desks or they can be created with $20 and a trip to Ikea. In our post “Using A Stand Up Desk Can Be Cheap, Easy, And Beneficial For Your Health,” we discussed some of the benefits of getting up off the seat. We also wrote about how to use one in a way that is still safe for pain patients.

Another way workplaces can encourage fitness and better overall health is through a workplace wellness program. Now that these are more popular, research can be done on their benefits for workers. A recent study of 2,000 employees found that those enrolled in a workplace wellness program:

“Showed a significant increase in wellbeing over the five years, with an increase on the wellbeing index of over 13%. Significant decreases were found in important health measures also, including:

  • Healthcare costs: Down 5.2%
  • Obesity rates: Down 4.8%
  • Smoking rates: Down 9.7%

In addition, productivity increased and worker absenteeism dropped.”

Finally, one of the best ways to exercise is by simply walking more. We encourage all pain patients to find a local and supportive walking group. If one isn’t available in your area, make it a goal in 2016 to start your own!

3. Be more mindful of injuries and pain conditions 

In 2016, make the pledge to learn more about your pain condition, treatments that could help, and general lifestyle tips for handling a new condition or injury if it occurs. This month we focused on:

  • Treating minor sports injuries at home, and how to tell when you need to get to the doctor
  • Describing the causes and risks factors for rotator cuff injuries, and what to do when you have one
  • Detailing some exercises you can do from a sitting position to help alleviate neck pain
  • Explaining how pain doctors generally diagnose and treat the sports injury, tennis elbow 

Every week on this blog and over on PainDoctor.com, we discuss new information and research on a variety of chronic pain conditions and treatments. Subscribe to both of the blogs to make sure you stay up-to-date on these important advancements in pain medicine.

What was your favorite post from the first month of 2016? Are there any topics you’d like to see more of this year on the blog? 

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