Living with chronic pain affects your emotions as well as your body. Prolonged discomfort can make you feel sad and irritable, and those feelings can make pain worse. Breaking the cycle is challenging, but it will enhance your quality of life.
Your daily choices can help you manage your symptoms and feel more joyful. Try these tips for keeping your spirits up.
Choosing the Way You Think:
- Adjust your expectations. Are you trying to do too much? Accepting your condition is the first step in adapting to your current abilities, so you can avoid becoming overwhelmed and fatigued.
- Let go of judgments. It’s natural to grieve when you’re diagnosed with a chronic condition. However, the sooner you stop blaming yourself or resenting others, the faster you can move on.
- Resist comparisons. Maximize your own potential, instead of trying to measure up to others. Focus on your strengths and give yourself credit for making an effort.
- Cultivate gratitude. Being thankful is even more important when you’re going through a difficult time. Appreciate small pleasures and reflect on how overcoming hardships may help you to grow.
- Build your confidence. You are still capable of accomplishing great things and leading a meaningful life. Set new goals that will motivate you to strive for success.
Choosing the Way You Act:
- Continue learning. How much do you know about your condition? Researching the subject and keeping up with the latest research could help you to feel calmer and more in control.
- Eat healthy. Proper nutrition contributes to your overall wellbeing. Plan meals and snacks centered around whole foods like vegetables, fruits, fish, and low-fat dairy products.
- Work out regularly. Ask your doctor about what exercises are safe for you. Even a gentle daily walk may boost your mood and help reduce stress.
- Sleep well. Chronic pain often disrupts sleep. Increase your chances of staying well rested by sticking to a consistent bedtime and keeping your bedroom dark and quiet. If you take medication that makes you drowsy, maybe you can schedule a dose for late in the evening.
- Seek support. Isolation is another risk to watch out for. Stay connected by hanging out with family and friends. Let them know how they can help you. Join a support group in your local community or online.
- Share your feelings. Disturbing thoughts and uncomfortable emotions are easier to bear when you talk about them with someone you trust. Your loved ones may not have the same symptoms as you, but they probably have their own misfortunes that will help them to relate.
- Keep a journal. Writing about your daily experiences is another way to release tension. You can explore your concerns and come up with strategies for dealing with them.
- Practice visualization. Soothe yourself with guided imagery. Shift your attention away from your pain and onto something pleasant, like grassy fields or cool breezes. Invent your own scripts or find free videos on YouTube or at your neighborhood library.
- Help others. Being generous is one of the most effective options for taking your mind off your troubles. It helps build your self-esteem too. Do volunteer work in your community. Listen to a friend who wants to talk about their recent divorce or their new baby.
- Work with a counselor. Cognitive behavioral therapy and related techniques may help you with the difficult task of cultivating a happy mind when your body is hurting. Ask your doctor or health plan for referrals.
Make your life more fulfilling by staying cheerful and engaged. Positive thinking and social support can help you triumph over chronic pain.