When someone says that emotional or mental discomfort has physical effects, you might be fast to point out things like stress headaches, nervous butterflies, loss of appetite due to depression, and myriad other ways that our minds impact our bodies. Fewer people recognize that this truth actually goes both ways. The way we feel in our bodies also has an impact on our mental and emotional health. For people who struggle with chronic pain that may mean experiencing higher levels of depression and anxiety as well as being more likely to develop substance use disorders. So, how can people cope with chronic pain and avoid experiencing negative mental health effects? In this blog, we’ll share our top recommended coping strategies for people living with chronic pain.
1 – Do What You Can
No one wants to feel like they have to rely on others to get by. Loss of independence is one of the greatest risk factors for experiencing negative mental health effects related to chronic pain. Even if it’s a challenge, try to do some things for yourself. Obviously, be careful and be kind to yourself. Don’t overdo it, but when possible, maintain some responsibility for your own care.
2 – Learn How to Be Active with Care
These first two go hand in hand. Talk to your doctor, physical therapist, or other professionals about how to safely move your body. Stretching is a great way to relieve pain and stay active. Learn some good stretching exercises and do them each day. If you have enough mobility to engage in activities like yoga or tai chi, these can be great options to stretch and stay moving. Maintaining good posture to relive stress from the back is another great way to be a little active without unnecessarily taxing your body.
3 – Don’t Neglect the Basics
Drink plenty of water, eat a nutrient-rich diet, get whatever exercise your condition allows you to tolerate, and make sure you’re sleeping enough. You’d be surprised what difference a little bit of basic self-care can make.
4 – Make Plans
Having something to look forward to can make even severe, chronic pain feel a little more bearable. Plan for a future vacation, a party to celebrate a special occasion, or other event you won’t want to miss. Count down the days to keep yourself feeling hopeful and looking to the future.
5 – Build a Support System
Chronic pain can be isolating. No one really understands what it’s like to live with high levels of discomfort and the toll it takes on your daily life. Share thoughts and feelings like this with your loved ones. Even if they don’t really “get it”, sharing your feelings and worries with the people you care about can help them feel less overwhelming. In addition to friends and loved ones, you may also want to talk to the human resources department or other appropriate resources at your work about what you’re experiencing. This can help you feel confident that your situation won’t negatively impact your ability to maintain your job. Don’t forget to build your network of physicians, physical therapists, and other healthcare providers to help you address and combat the sources of chronic pain.
Finally, you may want to schedule therapy sessions to talk through any challenges that arise and discuss confronting emotions, difficult thinking, and other mental health concerns related to chronic pain. If you’d like to learn more about therapy, we hope you’ll consider working with us at Lotus Psychology Group. You can learn more or schedule a visit by calling (248) 957-8973, emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, or completing our online contact form to get in touch.