I am a firm believer that when it comes to pain, the battle is often one of mind over matter. If you think you can tolerate it, you can. But if you focus on it, it is magnified enormously. Having said that, I also recognize that there are many other ways to achieve relief in tandem with your mindset.

So this month I wanted to focus on the battle, not on the pain necessarily, but on the effectiveness of my current strategies, and the introduction of a few new ones.

I have long had bouts of chronic back and neck pain along with headaches. I have chased the source of this pain for years, and have come up with a mix mash of answers, none of which have provided me with clear solutions.

But through a regimen of weekly therapies, and mindfulness in my activities, even though I can’t necessarily eliminate the symptoms, I am able to better manage them.

This week I took the simple step of being more mindful about staying hydrated. I’m an on the wagon off the wagon kind of person when it come to staying hydrated. I’ll go for months diligently drinking my 32-48 oz of water daily, and then suddenly my habit will be completely derailed out of nowhere.

But, I’m back on the wagon. There’s no doubt about it, when I’m hydrated my muscles don’t cramp as severely, and the tension and severity of my headaches are lessened. You would think that would be enough to keep me on track, but somehow it’s not.

So, in an effort to solidify this habit, I’ve pulled out a couple tricks for forming habits that stick from Gretchen RUBIN’s book, Better than Before.

  1. I invested a little. I went out and bought myself a lovely Swell water bottle. I have loved these bottles for the past couple years, but felt bad about spending $45.00 on a water bottle. Well, they do have some pretty great features, including being able to keep the contents cold for 24 hours, so I finally sprung for one and carry it with me everywhere I go now. With it so accessible, it’s much easier to keep sipping throughout the entire day, even while you’re on the go.
  2. I implemented the practice of pairing. I bring my trusty Swell with me to my workouts, and drink between every single set I do. I now associate putting down the weights with picking up my Swell and taking a drink, so much so that I am doing it almost unconsciously now. Doing this translates to me drinking an entire bottle (16 oz) by the time my morning workout is over.
  3. I’ve also paired water with meals and my meal preparation. I keep my swell bottle around, and when I’m feeling like snacking on a slice of cheese, or grabbing a handful of cashews while I am preparing dinner, I take a drink of water instead. This saves me from filling up before dinner is even served. I have also made a habit of drinking only water with my meals. I haven’t eliminated coffee or smoothies, but I separate those from my meals and use them as a treat, or in the case of smoothies, as a meal replacements. I’m planning to make room for exceptions at dinner once baby arrives, as I do enjoy a glass of wine with a nice meal. But with Breakfast and Lunch I’m going to stick 100% with water.

So far these simple steps have been very effective, I’ve easily been hitting my H2O requirements daily, and I know my muscles are thanking me for it.

Next-up: Identifying My Husband’s Love Language