Pain is a sensation that occurs once your neurological system is triggered by certain stimuli. Chronic pain can be episodic, sporadic, or constant. It can last for weeks, months or even years. According to the International Association for the Study of Pain, the pain experienced can either be moderate or severe. Many describe it as an unpleasant feeling that is made worse by prolonged activity or stress. People with chronic pain often wonder how to accept their pain so that they can live a more fulfilled life.
Two Kinds of Pain
People with chronic illness typically experience two types of pain: physical and emotional. The physical pain is the pain sensation felt within the body that varies in intensity. This pain can be caused by illness or injury.
The second type of pain is emotional pain and typically leads to unpleasant feelings such as despair, frustration and disillusionment. It is nonphysical in nature and most people with chronic illness often experience emotional pain.
To get a better grip on your physical pain, there are numerous pharmaceutical medications and alternative remedies, like meditation and herbal supplements, which can help with pain management. There are also multiple over-the-counter ointments, chiropractic adjustments, massages, and more. Like physical pain, emotional pain is real and this pain often results from your illness or how you perceive it. When you experience emotional pain, you must learn to not be angry with yourself or your illness. You must find ways to handle the strong emotions you feel so that you can break away from the pain and into happiness.
In essence, you must learn to face both types of pain head-on. For instance, when you experience a painful flare-up, you can’t ignore the physical manifestations of your illness and when you’re lonely or depressed, you can’t stifle your emotions. The angry, isolated, rejected feelings that surface must be dealt with and so must the physical symptoms. When both types of pain hit, figure out what the pain is trying to convey to you.
Take Out the Frustration
Make peace with your pain. Accept it as real and commit to working with it.
- Befriend your pain. Understand that pain is there to teach you something. You may not know exactly what it’s there to teach you, but it is certainly there to teach you something. It is trying to tell you that you need to take more time out for yourself. It may be trying to tell you that you have unresolved pain from the past. It may be telling you that you have to learn to accept yourself exactly as you are. By recognizing that all pain has a purpose, you can befriend it and learn valuable lessons from it.
- Eliminate triggers. Pain is naturally made worse by stress. One great way to alleviate pain is by using some stress-busting exercises to lessen the symptoms. Here are some simple ways to reduce stress:
- Lessen your workload so that don’t put too much stress and physical strain on your body.
- Eliminate pain triggers. For instance, you may find that being around certain people causes your pain to trigger more often. Or, you may find that drinking too much caffeine or eating inflammation causing foods (like processed foods) leads to an increase in pain.
- Engage in low or moderate exercise. Staying active can keep your joints moving and muscles strong. It can also provide you with a boost of feel-good endorphins, (for example, dopamine) and a more positive outlook about life and your chronic condition.
Other helpful tips:
- Get enough sleep and take power naps when you can.
- Eat health foods and steer clear of inflammation-producing foods. Many chronic pain sufferers have found relief in anti-inflammatory eating plans. Such plans attempt to lower the body’s immune response by encouraging chronic illness sufferers to eat more fatty fish, nuts, lean meat, whole grains, beets, sweet potatoes, low-fat dairy or soy, dark leafy greens (collard greens, kale, spinach), antioxidant-enriched fruits (apples, blueberries) and vegetable oils (corn, safflower, peanut, soybean, etc.). With this eating plan, you should avoid white bread and processed food.
- Knowing your energy limits and sticking within its parameters can help you avoid a painful flare-up from doing too much.
- Talk about your pain; don’t hide it away. By talking about how bad you’re feeling, you’re able to release pent-up negative emotions that make you feel worse. If you’d rather not discuss your pain with others, write it down in a journal. Talk to your pain and tell it how it makes you feel. Listen to your intuition when hearing the symptoms of pain.
In conclusion, you may not yet love your chronic illness, but it is definitely a part of you and contributes to who you are. By making a commitment to honoring your pain, you can learn lessons from it. Making friends with your pain is paramount to your success. Although this certainly isn’t easy, it is definitely doable. By taking action to alleviate physical symptoms, getting enough rest, eating healthy (non-inflammatory) foods, avoiding emotional triggers and sticking within your energy levels, you can make peace with your pain.