When you live with chronic pain, you often look for ways to manage pain throughout the day. Finding simple, gentle pain management techniques are helpful for many people, such as gentle stretches and calming meditation. The mind is powerful and sometimes needs a little direction when it comes to pain. Here are 5 mantras for pain management that you can use anywhere to help you feel better.
1) Speak to Your Fear
Many people are taught to ignore their fears. However, ignoring fear can make you feel even 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 on a piece of paper.
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 your fear this mantra: “I see that you’re afraid. You’re not alone. I’m here with you.”
In telling this to your fear, you’re not ignoring it, and you’re not giving in to it. You’re recognizing it and being kind to yourself. Repeat this mantra when you feel afraid.
2) Recognize Your Strength
Strength comes in many forms, including physical, mental, spiritual and emotional. 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 harder. When you’re feeling weak, it’s hard to see all the strength you have inside. So, it’s 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, give this mantra a try: “I am strong. No matter what, I am strong.”
Reminding yourself that you’re strong helps reinforce the positive affirmation in your mind.
3) Reduce Your Stress
Stressors are everywhere, and your brain can have a hard time telling the difference between stressors. For example, 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. In fact, it might 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?
Tell yourself this mantra whenever you feel stress happening: “This looks like a mountain, but it’s only a molehill.”
4) Help Yourself Feel Safe
It can be hard to feel safe when chronic pain is constantly happening. Over time, the feeling of being unsafe along with fear can cause you to have anxiety. It’s common for people with chronic pain to worry a lot and have a lot of anxiety.
However, worry and anxiety can take away from all of the good things that are happening. 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.
Help yourself feel safe by repeating this mantra: “I am safe. I am loved.”
Show yourself some extra love by being kind to yourself, even when you’re having a really hard day. When your body is hurting, do something nice for it, like take a warm Epsom salts bath, have gentle massage or drink herbal tea.
5) Recognize How Far You’ve Come
While it can be challenging to see how far you’ve come, it’s important to stop and think about the positive things you have done. When you’re in the thick of chronic pain, it’s hard to stay positive. The brain typically holds onto negative memories and emotions better than the positive ones.
Help your brain remember the positive ones by reminding it. You can start this mantra with “Look how far I’ve come,” and then add something positive that you have accomplished. It can be anything positive you want, such as going to dinner with friends, cooking a new recipe, trying gentle exercises and many more.
Update your mantra to include something new and positive every day. You can write it on a post it note and place it around the house, or set a reminder in your phone to remind you to recite your mantra. Soon, your mind will expect something positive and remember it more easily.