Living with Chronic Pain

How to Acquire Gratitude When Living With Chronic Pain

Source: Healthline

Gratitude is defined as the feeling of being thankful, which can be especially difficult for those living with chronic pain. It has many benefits, including strengthened immune system, increased optimism, improved mood, decreased aches and pain, and reduced anxiety and depression.

Though individuals with chronic pain may experience many challenges, being grateful positively impacts a person’s mental and physical well-being. Here are five ways to acquire gratitude when living with chronic pain.

  • Keep a gratitude journal. Keeping a gratitude journal typically involves writing down at least one thing to be thankful for each day. For individuals with chronic pain, this could be the ability to go outside for a short walk, a successful physical therapy appointment, or a kind act received on a high pain day.
  • Actively look for the positives in life. Sadness and frustration may be experienced due to the struggles of chronic pain. However, individuals can choose to look for the positives, despite those difficulties. For example, an individual who is hospitalized may feel thankful for a nurse who goes above and beyond when providing care. A person who is unable to attend an event due to pain may appreciate the extra time provided to watch a movie and relax. Sitting outside on a sunny day, eating a favorite food, or hearing a favorite song can be positives amidst the challenges. Seeking pleasures makes gratitude become a natural part of the day.
  • Make an alphabet gratitude list. Write down one thing to be grateful for that starts with the letter A. Add something that starts with the letter B the following day. After continuing this process through the alphabet, a gratitude list of 26 items can be referenced when needed.
  • Savor the gratitude. Gratitude may be a feeling that passes quickly; therefore, making a point to savor gratitude lengthens the thankful feeling, making it easier to recall. For example, if a friend goes to the grocery store due to high pain, it would be simple to thank them and move on. However, meditating on the kind gesture, writing about it in a journal, or telling others extends that feeling of thankfulness.
  • Send thank you notes. Expressing appreciation to another person provides a mood boost for the person receiving the thanks, and gratitude for the individual expressing it. Set a goal to send at least one thank you note each week to a family member, friend, physician, nurse, physical therapist, or other helpful individual, indicating the reason for gratitude. Considering who to write the next note to keeps thankfulness foremost in the mind.

Additional sources: Psychology Today, The Mighty, and My Chronic Pain Team

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