September 20, 2019
Chronic pain, no matter the source, affects every aspect of your daily life. When you experience pain, previously cherished routines, from playing with children or grandchildren to leaving each day for work, often feel impossible. People with chronic pain might worry about finances or how to care for their families while in such pain. They also miss hobbies, favorite sports, and life events. Chronic pain can be a lonely experience, filled with loved ones and even doctors who may not always seem to understand.
This feeling of being unable to live a normal life can understandably impact your mental health. In fact, studies have shown that those who experience chronic pain tend to also experience depression. On the flip side of this, it has also been noted that depression can make pain worse. This is because similar parts of the brain, as well as certain hormones, are involved in both conditions. The more severe the depression, the more severe the pain, and vice versa. Controlling pain and maintaining positive mental health are both equally important and essential to living a full life.
While managing chronic pain, be sure to talk with your Riverside Pain physician about how to improve and maintain quality mental health. Your physician can guide you toward a mental health plan that is beneficial to your condition. You can also try some life changes as well:
Try to Get Enough Rest
When you’re experiencing chronic pain, the idea of getting enough sleep often sounds just as impossible as staying positive. However, a good night’s sleep is essential for good health. When you’re well rested, your body can more easily heal and focus. A lack of sleep can lead to more health problems. Talk with your doctor about any issues that you have with sleep, but you can also try gentle, approved exercises before bed (such as restorative yoga or an evening walk), aromatherapy, a warm bath, or a relaxing novel to wind down.
Don’t Isolate Yourself
While it’s difficult to be around friends and family when you find yourself unable to do the things you used to do, try to continue staying in contact with the people you love the most. Whenever possible, take yourself out of the house to spend time with others. You might be surprised at how you can modify certain old, favorite activities to meet you where you are now.
Being outside is soothing and calming. Try to make an effort to spend time outside for at least 30 minutes daily. Read a book in the park or go for an easy stroll. You may even be able to spend some time in the pool or a low-impact water aerobics class.
Involve Yourself in Therapy
Talk therapy helps many people, as does journaling, mindfulness, relaxation techniques, and meditation. A surprisingly helpful way to feel more positive is to, at the end of each day, write down 3 things about the day for which you are grateful. Even if you just enjoyed petting your dog or watching a funny television show, reminding yourself of the positives in your day can help you to keep an optimistic focus.
If you are experiencing particularly severe anxiety or depression, you might also benefit from other therapies, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy. There are also some medications that have positively impacted many people. Speak with your physician about these options.
Stay As Active As You Can
Exercise has been shown over and over again to boost mental health. Talk with your doctor about exercises that are safe for you to do, particularly calming ones, like yoga, walking, swimming, and even gentle stretching. Being active will also help you to connect with your body and feel empowered by what it is still capable of doing.
Give Yourself Permission to Slow Down
Don’t feel guilty about having days where you need to simply rest and recharge. Remember that tomorrow is a new day on your journey with chronic pain. Be gentle with yourself as you learn what works for you.
At Riverside Pain Physicians, we work to help you take your life back from chronic pain. Contact us today to see how our Jacksonville physicians can help manage and treat the painful conditions affecting you.
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