As someone who lives in pain everyday, I have had to learn to refocus my energy into other areas of my life to avoid the spiral of depression that generally follows people dealing with chronic pain and illness. This is not meant to diagnose or treat your pain but rather show you (and your loved ones) how to best manage the situation of being in pain itself. Lets open our mind to a new way of thinking and embrace the blessings in our lives rather than just focusing on the negative.
Live in the now
When you are entrenched in a life filled with pain, sickness, and/or depression it can be challenging not to look back at “what I use to be like” or worry about the future that seems uncertain at best. Living in the past will not fix your present nor will worrying about the future in which you can not control. Let go, give in, and work with what you can right NOW.
No more pity parties
Yes, your situation sucks, I feel you. That is no excuse however, to become a victim of your situation. Acknowledge the struggle, feel the pain, but then lets find a solution, or an outlet to get those emotions out of your system and to allow fresh love and positivity into your body and mind. Journal, paint, talk into a recorder, whatever means feels right for you, but don’t hesitate just start getting your thoughts out of your system so you can move onto more important things.
Acknowledge the connection of your emotions and pain
Family fights, financial woes, relationship struggles, any sort of emotional stress is going to exacerbate your pain 10 fold! When I finally made the connection that the events and feelings of my life where effecting my pain I felt like a failure. I mean how could I allow my emotions to affect me on such a deep level? Well let me tell you, it has nothing to do with being weak, or “failing” but it does have everything to do with our central nervous systems. Your body doesn’t know the difference if you are stressed from a fight with your partner or if you are being chased by a lion. Stress is stress is stress. Limit contact with negative people, aggressive music, and stressful situations as much as possible. Manage your stress and you will manage your pain much easier.
Understand it is ok to take a break
I struggle with this daily. As an entrepreneur my whole life depends on my work. When I don’t have the energy to coach, write, cook, or blog it can be hard not to spiral into a hole of self deprecation and self loathing. Cut negative self talk out of your vocabulary immediately! Yes, you may not be able to work, or read, or even stay awake at this moment in time, but the world will not stop turning. Listen to you body! It is trying to tell you to REST! If you do not give in to your body, you will be fighting an uphill battle that you will lose. The body always wins, so give in, take a break, take a nap, and when you are feeling strong you will rip through your work faster than you ever thought possible. Trust me.
Build a strong support system
I have made every mistake when it comes to recovering and coping with my disability. What I have learned is that you do not need a lot of people to help you, just the right people to help you. Make sure you have a one or two people (ideally people you live with) who really understand your needs and are aware of your pain and limitations. Have them set your house up so that your shower, kitchen, and bedroom have everything you will need in arms distance. Make sure to keep your support system intimately involved in your day to day ups and downs; what went well, what didn’t etc. The more they know, the more they can help you. Most importantly being surrounded by love will fuel your recovery faster and subdue pain dramatically. Keep your heart open and allow as much love and compassion in as you can.
State your needs
This was/is the hardest part for me. Think about when someone you loved was sick or hurt. What did you want to do? You wanted to help them right? Of course you did. But what if you have no idea what that person needed? What if they shut down and kept saying “I’m fine” but you know they aren’t “fine”. It hurts. You feel helpless. So a little piece of advice, let everyone know exactly what you need, when you need it. They will feel useful, empowered, and loved. You have to let people help, because you can not do it alone despite what you keep saying to yourself.
Show gratitude every day
This is my favorite trick for cultivating positivity that fuels my desire to keep pushing forward, no matter the obstacle in my way. Here is what you do, wake up and write down 3 things or people you are grateful for and then thank them in your head 3 times. (Thank you. Thank you. Thank you!) When you go to bed write down the three best things that happened to you today. This will force you to see the good in your day instead of focusing only on the negative. Putting out positive energy into the world is like holding a magnet that only pulls in love and support into your life. It works. Believe in the process.