Tips for Thriving With Chronic Pain
There are many things that you can do to not just survive while dealing with chronic pain, but actually THRIVE. Here I walk you through six different techniques for dealing with chronic pain.
#1 Let go of what you think you should be doing.
There is so much of life that seems absolutely non-negotiable that is actually quite dispensable. Living with chronic pain taught me this.
When you are having a hard time keeping up with the bare necessities, it is a relief to let go of extraneous tasks and expectations. It doesn’t mean you can’t pick them up again when you are ready, it just means that you are investing your focus and energy into what matters most at this time, and that is your wellness.
#2 Spruce up your resting space.
I didn’t put Rest on this list because I hope that is a no brainer. You have to rest deeply and regularly to thrive with chronic pain. This means you are spending lots of time in your resting areas. This may be your bedroom, your couch, a cozy chair, any place where you can really let your body fully settle and Release.
Since you’re spending so much time in this spot, brighten it up! Open the blinds and let in sunlight. Get an easy plant or two to literally bring life to your spot. Put a picture of someone or some place you love in your line of sight. Write down quotes or phrases that bring you hope and put them by the pictures.
It doesn’t have to be a design masterpiece- it just has to speak to you and say, “This is your safe spot, hope is resting here with you, it is ready when you are.”
#3 Move your body, even if you don’t want to.
This one can be tough, but it is essential. When your nervous system is on high alert with chronic pain, it may be sending you signals that moving is a terrible idea. But you have to override this feature, because if you can show your brain that moving is safe, it will start to calm down and let you move more.
Of course, your movement should be well within your current capabilities. Some days this could mean doing simple movements while laying down. Maybe you just walk slowly around your yard or a park. You may be up for some gentle yoga at times or some very light dancing.
Whatever kind of movement brings you joy even with the presence of pain is what you should focus on. After your movement time, lay down to Release, and give yourself some major kudos for getting your body and the healing process in motion!
#4 Talk to yourself.
You heard me- talk to yourself! Tell yourself that it will get better, that you are thriving already. Create a mantra that encapsulates what gives you the most encouragement. Even if you are not believing what you are saying to yourself, say it anyway!
Under all the noise of doubt, worry, fear, and pain, your subconscious is listening and will take the job of calming your frayed nerves if you let it.
If you are able to write, then write your mantra down and tape it to your bathroom mirror and every time you are in there, say it out loud to yourself. Say it to yourself throughout your day. Keep track of your accomplishments, no matter how small. Repeat them to yourself and give yourself the kind of congratulations you deserve!
#5 Do what you love.
When living with chronic pain, you may be telling yourself that the days of doing what you love are over. And in some very extreme cases, that may be true, like if your major passion in life is skydiving or extreme skiing. Even then, most of us have passions that translate into accessible, everyday activities.
If you love gardening, but are in too much pain to work in your garden, then just work with one or two small potted plant., Pour all of your love and energy into this. If you love to cook, but can’t manage a big recipe, keep it simple! But cook anyway, then sit down and enjoy your food with all of your senses.
Cut yourself some slack, you may not be able to engage in your passions as you did before, but remind yourself that you are working up to that and will get there one day soon. In the meantime, savor what it is about your passion that you find so fulfilling and look for that in the small ways you are able to engage it.
#6 Ask for help.
This one is unavoidable. If you are to thrive with chronic pain, you need support to get through the most limiting parts of the process. It is ok to ask for help, to hand over responsibilities, to allow others to take over chores and projects.
This goes back to the first item on our list, letting go. Learning to trust those who support you to take care of what needs to be done is freeing. Learning to let go of what you cannot control at this time is healing. Do not feel selfish or weak.
You will have the chance to help someone else when you are stronger and more able. For now be grateful, express your love, and accept the gift of support. Use this time to Rest, Restore, and Revive.