Chronic Pain: Part Two- Coping Strategies

Forêt enneigé de lumière... pignon niché dans les ombres bleues... premiers jours de l'hiver...!!!Pain is the body’s way of sounding our internal alarm. It says, “Stop, you’re going too far, you’re doing too much, this is dangerous.” Without these warnings, you could be in serious trouble! Everyone’s pain tolerance is different- some can handle more bodily stress than others. When pain supersedes your tolerance with a daily or triggered experience due to a past injury or unidentified condition, chronic pain is usually a suspect.

In my previous blog, we identified chronic pain. UNDERSTANDING chronic pain is actually the first coping strategy with this every day battle. If you don’t know you have it, you can’t cope! Side note, I am not a doctor and this blog is not to be used to diagnose or suggest that you have chronic pain. If you have not been diagnosed with chronic pain, and suspect that this may be the case, please see your doctor. Grab some materials and resources and learn how your body is reacting to this pain. Get to know your body, your pain tolerance, what you can and can’t do. This first step of understanding is sort of like getting to know an irritating friend! Knowing your patterns, your triggers etc. will all help you live a fuller life with chronic pain. You are not isolated, you are not alone, and you are not helpless to this condition.

The second coping strategy is REST: mixed with finding peace and managing your stress and emotions. The big bad monster called stress causes muscle tension, mental tension, and a myriad of intense chemical reactions within the body. Take care of this monster, and your tension will melt away. Deep breathing, stretching however you can, and most of all- resting! Chronic pain is not an excuse to avoid action- it’s the opposite! Even on the days you can’t walk or get out of bed, work on your inner stress. Prayer, meditation, peaceful music and journaling are all great ways to getting started on the journey to inner and outer peace. Leave your worries, your pain and stress at the foot of the cross during prayer. Leave them there, don’t take them back. The more you give your pain away, the more emotional room you are creating! You’d be surprised how this positive reaction to pain will help physically and emotionally!

A Woman Walks On Ice

The third coping strategy is a mix of relational and physical activity, but more simplified: ACTION. Once you’ve rested up, supporting yourself with other’s company and encouragement is a necessity. It’s so easy to isolate yourself during spells of pain, not only can it be embarrassing and humiliating, but it can also be an easy excuse to separate yourself from the one’s you love. Be willing to keep a strong connection with someone. Every superhero needs a sidekick. Any sort of relational interaction lifts the spirits. I spend a lot of time with my dog, a boxer named Indiana Jones. Even when I’m in pain, he gets me up to walk him, play, and even get silly! The second area of this coping strategy incorporates physical activity. Please consult your doctor for specific advice on your activity level. Anything active gets your dopamine levels (the “feel good” chemicals) to raise and help ease the pain. Get out and have a good time with a friend, your pet. Get outside and enjoy nature, rejoice in something beautiful. One of my best coping strategies is LAUGHING!! Laugh; laugh some more, and laugh even more after that. Just remember that positivity can kill stress, negative thoughts, and even help with pain management.

Finally, HOPE: Never give up! There are so many new drugs, therapies, and studies going on continually regarding different aspects of chronic pain. Don’t give up hope for new therapies. Also, chronic pain can sometimes drag you down in the dirt with it. Don’t give up hope for yourself- fight depression, stress and anxiety. Teach yourself new ways of thinking and coping. Don’t waste away! This life is precious, so, so precious. Your body may be affected by pain, but do not let your life be wasted because of it. You can do it!!

~Author: Sarah A. Miller, MA at Miller Counseling Services, PC

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