This article originally published on GetHealthyStayHealthy.com
Chronic pain can affect your life in more ways than you may expect. While you may have good days and bad days, pain may cause you to feel sad, angry, anxious, and hopeless. It may even disrupt your family and work life and take a toll on your physical and mental health, limiting what you can do at work and at leisure. People with chronic pain also report feeling that those around them don’t often understand how pain impacts their quality of life.
This can lead to negative feelings such as frustration and resentment and can also increase stress levels. While medical treatments, physical therapy, and even surgery are important tools to help relieve chronic pain, it’s important to take steps to manage the effects that pain has on you. The following tips can help you deal with your chronic pain:
- Try to manage your stress. Negative feelings may impact the intensity of pain. Finding healthy ways to deal with stress may help you find some relief from pain. For example, deep breathing can help you relax, relieve tension, and calm a noisy mind. Try deep breathing alone or with yoga or meditation.
- Stay active and involved. By doing activities you enjoy, you can focus on something other than pain. Take up a new hobby or get involved in community-based activities. Make sure you know your limits—be realistic about what you can handle.
- Think positively. Focusing on the positive can make you feel better. Think about any improvements you may notice in your pain and the steps you are taking to deal with it.
- Try visualization. To get into a deep state of relaxation, use as many of your senses as possible to imagine a place you find calming. For example, you can picture yourself sitting by a stream, on a hammock, or in a comfy chair in your childhood home. This can help you to focus on feeling relaxed instead of stressed.
- Do your best to sleep. Everything seems better after a good night’s sleep. And there’s a reason for that. Lack of sleep can lead to irritability, anxiety, and depression. On the other hand, getting enough sleep (7 to 8 hours a night for most adults) can help you stay healthy, think more clearly, improve your mood, and reduce stress.
- Keep a journal or diary. You can find strength and inspiration in your own words by keeping a journal. You may also find that journaling can help you take charge of your thoughts and improve your decision-making skills.
- Get support. In a support group (even an online one), you can share your experience with others who have found ways to stay positive despite being in pain. This may help you understand that you are not alone.
- Be open with friends and family. When you isolate yourself from others due to pain, you may have a negative attitude which can make your pain feel worse. Find activities and hobbies to keep you connected with friends and family. Also, don’t keep everything bottled up. Instead, share your feelings with those you trust. You may be surprised at how understanding and supportive they may be. They may also help you see the bright side of things.
If you or someone you know is dealing with pain, talk with your healthcare provider about these and other ways to help manage it.
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