by Dee Wacker, MA
Chronic pain has the potential to take over all aspects of your life by impacting relationships, mental health, and physical activities. Life can seem like an endless day of pain and more pain. One person described chronic pain this way, “It feels as if my body has betrayed me.” But this is not the way it has to be, and there is hope which starts with you and the changes you make.
Most importantly, you need to get in touch with your body and listen to what your body is telling you. By doing so you become more aware of pacing yourself and doing enough but not too much. Secondly, life is not over and neither are your activities and relationships just because you struggle with constant pain. As a person who just happens to have chronic pain, you want to keep your mind active and stay actively engaged in your relationships with family and friends. This is not the time to pull back. Instead, strive to discover the balance between not doing too much and not doing enough.
Other basic practices to follow include sticking to consistent sleep patterns, eating healthy, and remaining physically active (not too much but enough to keep you active).
Along with managing your physical health, don’t forget about your mental health. People with chronic pain are much more likely to experience episodes of depression and anxiety. Sometimes the depression and anxiety just keep hanging around. Maybe you struggle with anger and often ask why this is happening to you. All good and understandable questions. If you are a person of faith, then connecting with your faith can be helpful. It is often very helpful to seek the assistance of a mental health provider who is trained to work with those who struggle with chronic pain. Often such therapists have an awareness and understanding of the medical issues you may be facing.
As you work toward regaining some control of your life in spite of your chronic pain you discover new ways to be whole and healthy. This is possible!
In addition to the suggestions from last week’s article, begin to listen to your body and get in touch with what your body is telling you. Consider how the ways you think might be impacting your chronic pain levels. Thinking more negatively can actually increase your pain, while healthier thinking and healthy mindfulness can help you gain some control over your pain and its impact on you.
There is much you can learn online and in books to help you navigate your experience of chronic pain and its impact on all aspects of your life. But those avenues do not provide you with a personal relationship where all things can be discussed and processed. People who are faced with the debilitating impact of chronic pain need a safe and confidential place to talk openly about their challenges.
At River Counseling Services and Sioux Falls Psychological Services we meet you where you are, offering hope. We can help you develop skills in mindfulness that will make it easier to cope with chronic pain. You may schedule an appointment with the Platte office at 605-337-3444, or meet with one of our Sioux Falls Psychological Services therapists from your own computer or smartphone. To schedule an appointment please call 605-334-2696.