Chronic pain is different from the ordinary pain that we all experience from time to time. It lasts longer, often for months or even years and continues without any clear physical causation.
Those of us with chronic pain know full well how much it can interfere with daily life and how powerless we can feel in managing it. Further, because it is typically invisible to others it can lead us to feel that we have to just carry on as normal; which often means pushing ourselves too far to perform daily life tasks. This in turn can aggravate our pain symptoms and leave us feeling frustrated and hopeless.
While it is important to not feel that we have to stop doing things or ‘give in’ to our pain, pain is our bodies way of telling us that something is wrong, so we need to pay attention and do something different.
Once we have ruled out physical causes it can helpful to explore how other factors such as what we eat, how we live, our stress levels etc. affect our pain. When all of these factors are looked at and addressed, some long term chronic pain sufferers say that they get to a point where their pain has minimal impact on their life.
Here are 4 strategies to manage your pain
1. Body awareness
Getting to know your body is the first step.
Use a pain diary to look for patterns in how your pain changes over the course of the day/week.
Look at factors that make the pain worse and work on reducing these. You might find that sitting all day, aspects of your diet or smoking aggravate the pain and you can take steps to change these. For example, you could set a goal to take a short walk or work standing up for part of the day.
Tune into your body through mindfulness exercises such as the body scan to get to know your body better, understand your pain and learn from it to help find ways of managing it better.
Thank you for reading this post. If you know anyone who is experiencing chronic pain please share it with them and let me know if this helps. The next post will cover the remaining 3 strategies.