Coping With Cronic Pain

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  • Accept your condition One of the most important steps you can take involves accepting that you may always have pain or other symptoms.  Acceptance does not mean giving up hope, but instead reaching a point where you refuse to let symptoms dictate your activities.  You can make a conscience effort to stop focusing on losses and situations you cannot change, and strive to enjoy life in spite of pain or symptoms.
  • Recognize your loss Many people dealing with chronic pain or illness do not consider the changes that have occurred in their lives to be losses.  Recognize that a chronic condition can affect what you are able to do.  However, try not to exaggerate the impact of your symptoms.
  • Express your feelings Acknowledge your grief and the feelings you have toward your loss.  Share your feelings with family members and friends.  Try writing your thoughts and feelings in a journal.
  • Consider professional help  If feelings of loss or grief are overwhelming, debilitating or persist for more than a few months, talk with your health care provider.  Seeking professional help is not an admission of defeat, but a positive act toward controlling your reactions.
  • Try to maintain a positive attitude  A negative attitude can intensify your symptoms and increase troubling emotions.  A positive outlook improves your ability to face the upsetting emotions that chronic symptoms can produce.  When you experience troubling emotions, stop and evaluate your thoughts.  Try to replace negative thoughts with rational, positive ones.
  • Focus on your abilities, not your limitations  Try not to compare your current situation with the way things used to be.  This can produce “all-or-nothing thinking”–the idea that, if you cannot do something exactly as before, you can no longer do it at all.  Instead, modify or change your activites when necessary.  For example, if symptoms prevent you from playing 18 holes of golf, play nine holes and perhaps ride a golf cart.  Or, if you can no longer work 40 hours a week, consider reducing your hours or finding a different job.
  • Develop your sense of purpose and meaning  Do things that you find personally rewarding and meaningful.  For example, volunteer work or helping someone in need can boost your sense of self-worth and remind you that you make a difference.
  • Use your mind  Engage in activities that are mentally stimulating.  Play games, take a class, or artistic pursuits.
  • Use your faith  Many people rely on their faith to help them face feelings of grief and loss.
  • Be patient  Allow time to process and deal with the thoughts and feelings surrounding loss and to adopt new habits and ways of thinking.  Also remember that it may take time before you notice the benefits of exercise or other new coping activities.

Living with a chronic condition can be stressful and lead to feelings of loss and grief.  Adopting healthy approaches to your feelings can help make your life more enjoyable and satisfying.  

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