Living with Chronic Pain
Finding Hope and Purpose With Chronic Pain
Living with chronic pain is often frustrating and disheartening. Because chronic pain is unpredictable in severity and frequency, individuals who live with it are often forced to alter their lifestyles in order to cope. Activities that were once enjoyed may no longer be possible, family and friends may not understand and daily routines may need to be adjusted. Accepting a chronic pain diagnosis is difficult, especially when first diagnosed. However, finding hope and a new purpose in life is possible. Some tips that may help individuals accept and manage a life with chronic pain include the following:
Keep a gratitude journal
Writing about the blessings in life actually trains the brain to perceive things more positively. It may sound simple, but even jotting down 3 blessings a day slowly changes an individual’s outlook. It may be something basic like “the beautiful sunset” or “a friend stopped by to chat.”
Talk about It
Chronic pain can be more than frustrating, it can also make an individual feel isolated. Talking about emotions with trusted friends and family can help. Simply talking about day-to-day experiences and emotions offers a release, which helps decrease stress levels.
An effective way to reduce pain and anxiety is meditation. Even if individuals only meditate for 10 minutes per day, the positive impact on their lives can be drastic.
Although it may seem counterintuitive, exercise is an excellent way to decrease pain levels. Engaging in a daily low-impact exercise routine is beneficial for the body and mind. Before beginning any exercise program, individuals should discuss it with a health care provider to ensure it is a good choice for their condition.
Maintain a sense of humor
The saying, “Laughter is the best medicine” holds plenty of truth. Studies show that laughing releases “feel good” chemicals in the brain which help to reduce pain.
Join a support group
Sharing with others that also have chronic pain helps individuals realize they are not alone. Not only does the individual receive support, they can also offer support to others which, oftentimes, provides hope and purpose in their chronic pain journey.
Start a sleep routine
Lack of proper sleep often increases pain levels. Developing a sleep routine is important. Keeping the bedroom cool and clutter free promotes healthy sleep. Powering down all electronics, taking a warm bath or shower and drinking caffeine-free tea an hour before bed relaxes the body and brain.
Visit a specialist
Chronic pain is often too complex for a family doctor to treat. It is imperative to find a specialist who has worked with chronic pain patients. They can provide a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.