When you live with chronic pain, you likely keep an eye out for new and unique ways to manage your pain. From distracting yourself from the pain to experimenting with relaxation techniques and natural pain relief alternatives to investing in items that help you manage your most beloved hobbies, you may find yourself in need of advice or assistance. We’ve got you covered with a few ideas. Check out these 6 tips to help you channel stillness and reclaim life with chronic pain.
1) Keep a pain journal
Your pain journal is specific to you and your pain. It’s a place where you can be honest and about your physical pain and the strain it puts on you both mentally and emotionally. Focus on topics such as:
- Intensity of your pain: Rate it on a scale from 1 to 10. While the frequency you rate your pain is up to you, try to record your pain rating at least once in the morning, once in the afternoon and once again at bedtime.
- Description of your pain: Does your pain feel like burning or tingling? Does your pain pulsate or throb? Do you ache in your muscles or joints? When you describe your pain with these types of words, you and your healthcare team will be able to track your pain better.
- Tracking of your pain: For many people, their chronic pain changes throughout the day. Take note of the times of day when your pain level increases or decreases.
- Activity levels: Notice when your pain increases or changes. Do you hurt more when you first wake up or after sitting for a while? Were you exercising? Were you running errands or doing chores?
- Environmental changes: Many people with chronic pain notice a change in their pain levels when the weather changes. Does cold or hot weather worsen your pain? Do you notice any changes when it’s going to rain?
- Diet changes: Certain foods and drinks may worsen chronic pain. Foods such as fast food, sugary food and processed meats have the potential to increase your pain level. Write down everything you eat and drink throughout the day and when you notice changes in your pain.
- Emotional wellness: Your emotions and feelings play a role in chronic pain symptoms. Do you feel stressed out at certain times of day? What makes you feel worried or anxious? Write down your emotions throughout the day, and try adding relaxation techniques whenever you feel overwhelmed to help you reclaim life with chronic pain.
2) Speak to your fear
Many people are taught to ignore their fears, but ignoring fear can make you feel more overwhelmed. Remember: it’s completely normal to feel afraid, especially when you’re worried that your pain won’t ever let up. The first thing to do is be gentle with yourself and notice that you feel afraid.
Next, ask yourself what exactly is scaring you. Is your pain level higher than usual? Do you have something big planned and you’re afraid your chronic pain will keep you from enjoying it? Write down what is scaring you.
Visualize your fear. Give it a shape or face if that helps. Now comes the hard part: think of your fear as a friend, and speak directly to your fear. Tell it that you see it and it is not alone. In doing this, you’re not ignoring it, and you’re not giving in to it. You’re recognizing it and being kind to yourself, yet another step to help you reclaim life with chronic pain.
3) Recognize your strength
Strength comes in many forms. While nobody is strong all the time, people living with chronic pain may feel like they aren’t as strong as they think they should be.
Living with chronic pain causes fatigue, which makes feeling strong even more challenging. When you’re feeling weak, it’s hard to see all the strength you have inside. It becomes especially important to recognize your strength.
Any amount of strength is reason to celebrate. Did you walk around the block? Did you fold the laundry? Did you help a friend going through something hard? Whether you’re having a good pain day or a bad pain day, remind yourself that you are strong – no matter what – and that you can reclaim life with chronic pain.
4) Reduce your stress
Stressors are everywhere. Being stuck in traffic could cause the same stress response in your body as having a bad pain day. Stress can also cause existing conditions to worsen, so reducing your stress is important.
Is stressing out really going to make you feel better? Probably not. It may even make you feel worse. Try categorizing your stress into mountains and molehills. Is your stress really a mountain or is it more of a molehill?
5) Help yourself feel safe
It can be difficult to feel safe when living with chronic pain. Over time, the feeling of being unsafe along with fear can cause you to have feelings of anxiety.
But worry and anxiety can take away from the good things that are happening in your life. Remember: every success – even the small ones – are reason to celebrate. The first step to seeing all the good things is to reduce your anxiety. Show yourself some extra love by being kind to yourself, especially when you’re having an exceptionally hard day.
6) Recognize how far you’ve come
While it can be challenging to see how far you’ve come, it’s beneficial to you emotional well-being to stop and think about the positive. Help your brain remember the positive ones by reminding it. It can be anything positive you want such as going out with friends, cooking a new recipe, trying gentle exercises and many more.
Taking steps every day to reclaim life with chronic pain is a crucial part of your pain journey. Try to take a small step each day and remember the value in channeling stillness in your day-to-day activities.
What steps do you take each day to reclaim life with chronic pain?
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