For people living with chronic pain, every day can feel like an uphill battle. Chronic pain is often caused by an underlying condition, such as autoimmune diseases, fibromyalgia, back problems and many other chronic diseases. The isolating loneliness of living with chronic pain can feel overwhelming, but we’re here to help.
Feeling Down Is Normal
Many people living with chronic pain often feel the need to always be positive and show a brave face. If you live with chronic pain, you know how hard it is to get through your day-to-day activities as well as deal with the emotional side of things. It can be even harder when you feel alone.
Pain can cause depression, and depression can cause pain. It’s a bad cycle. However, remember, feeling down is normal. If you feel frustrated about having chronic pain or other health conditions, that’s also normal. Often, the first step toward feeling better emotionally is understanding that it’s perfectly okay to feel down sometimes.
After recognizing how down, depressed, frustrated or anxious you may feel, you can start taking steps to address those difficult emotions. While it’s hard to do, remember that you’re not alone.
Here are some ways to cope with feeling down:
- Phone a friend. Have a trusted friend or family member who you feel is trustworthy listen to you. Be honest about how you feel. If you just need to talk, ask your friend to only listen and not give any advice. On the other side, if you don’t feel like sharing with someone, you don’t have to share anything.
- Talk with a professional. Mental health professionals are trained to help people through difficult times. And, living with chronic pain is very hard. Many counselors take courses to certify them in working with people with chronic health conditions, too.
- Find a support group. Being around people going through similar chronic pain challenges as you helps you find support, make new friends and learn new coping techniques. You’ll also be able to listen to their stories and share your own.
- Celebrate every success. When chronic pain is part of your daily life, seeing your successes can be really challenging. Some conditions make it nearly impossible for people to perform seemingly simple activities, like making the bed or washing dishes. Celebrate every success you have every day, whether it’s as small as brushing your hair or as big walking around the block.
Give Yourself Permission to Rest and to Have Fun
It can be hard to feel energized about your day when you live with chronic pain. Sometimes even getting up and out of bed is a chore in itself. Feeling completely drained of energy is a common symptom of chronic pain.
For many people, the pain level increases as the energy level decreases. When you start to feel your fatigue or pain worsen, give yourself time to rest. It’s hard to not push yourself to keep going, but sometimes resting is the best thing you can do for yourself.
Balance your rest and activity levels. Staying active is a great way to boost mood, improve strength and lower pain levels. Try exercises that work with your body, such as yoga, Tai Chi and walking.
Even gentle forms of exercise release mood boosting chemicals in the brain. On days that you feel better than usual, allow yourself to do one of your favorite activities.
- Love gardening? Spend some time planting an herb garden.
- Does heading out to the golf course make you happy? Call up a friend and play a round of golf.
- Enjoy animals? Head for a nature park to birdwatch.
- Do you prefer art? Paint, draw or make a new piece of art.
Do the things you love to do because they make you happy, and rest whenever you need to. Anytime you feel down, remember that it’s okay to feel that way. Remember, even with all the ups and downs of living with chronic pain, there are still steps you can take to help you feel better.