We all know someone who suffers from chronic pain at some point in their life. As a matter of fact, you may be one of those people. According to IDEA Fitness Journal, more than 45% of Americans experience pain on a regular basis. Unfortunately, people tend to fall into bad habits as the body adapts to a new normal of persistent pain. I have worked with several clients who have gone through this experience. Here are a few things you can do mentally to better handle chronic pain. I have had bouts of chronic pain and had great success with relief and ongoing techniques to help me stay emotionally and physically balanced. I am very clear with my clients that I don’t treat or diagnose any condition, nor can I fix them. I have a customized approach for each client’s situation and have an incredible referral team for their best interest to get the care they need.
Mental Bad Habits of Pain
Many people faced with day-in/day-out chronic pain create negative coping mechanisms that make the condition worse. When chronic pain spikes, it often cues sufferers to engage in behaviors that, although dysfunctional, provide a short-term reward. For example, emotions such as anger and depression distract the brain (as it processes those thoughts and emotions), temporarily overriding the sensations of pain. These routine habits provide fleeting relief, but they also prolong chronic pain conditions by changing brain chemistry and altering the mind and body’s response to pain.
How These Mental Habits Affect the Body
These negative emotional responses cause negative physical changes as well. Because the body perceives persistent pain as a threat, the fight-or-flight response is triggered, and the instinct is to adopt protective postures and positions. Imagine an animal in pain; it curls up to shield its body and internal organs from further harm. Humans display the same defense mechanisms by rounding the spine and shoulders and bringing the arms across the body in protection. They stick their head forward and clench their teeth to ward off potential stressful interactions with others. The lower body responds by tilting the pelvis down and bringing the knees together to protect the genitalia. These changes, if repeated time and time again, can make chronic pain worse, causing joint inflammation, disease and degeneration.
The Importance of Rest … and Recovery
So what can you do to help with chronic pain? This pain is usually a signal that the body, along with the mind, has been taxed beyond normal limits. This can be a result of chronic stress, chronic fatigue, disease or chronic muscle and joint pain, among other things. Whatever the cause, your system needs rest and recovery. Here are my top five suggestions to help you destress your mind and body and get you on the road to living life well lived with less pain and more joy!
- Daily breathing and/or meditation. Close your eyes. This takes out the external stimulus. Focus on your breathing when you notice your mind wondering to some thought and just bring the focus back to your breathing. It takes practice; it’s a skill like golf or tennis. Be patient and practice. You deserve to give yourself the benefit. It promotes cell growth and repair, which, in turn, heal your body.
- Relaxing techniques before bed! Take a warm bath, drink herbal tea that has no caffeine and turn off any electronics an hour before bed. Great time to practice step 1.
- Good nutrition will also aid recovery. Seek professional help from a nutritionist for suitable choices specific to your needs.
- Bodywork — whether a massage, EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques), light stretching, yoga or anything that will promote relaxation.
- Last but not least — regular workouts that promote health and well-being.
With these techniques and willingness to take care of yourself, you will increase your zest and vitality. Several of my clients have benefitted from their commitment to self-care. Ignoring chronic pain and pushing through it only creates more of the same.
Take your health back by making a decision to change. You deserve the best life you want to have!
Are you ready to get the gift of happiness and health? If you are stuck and need some accountability, call or email me today to book your complimentary consultation to coach you in the direction you want to go.
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