Pain can be all-consuming, frightening, weird and exhausting. And on top of that, some people start reacting to their pain, their situation and even to themselves in ways that can make things worse.
Although often invisible, chronic pain is a common problem throughout Australia. You may have it yourself. You will certainly know someone who does, because about one in three people suffer from chronic pain, a debilitating condition that can affect so many aspects of a person’s life.
It can come from any one of a number of health conditions, as well as from injury. After a physical injury, tissue repair is usually done within six weeks, and healing requires a calculated increase in physical activity. If pain persists for more than 12 weeks it is considered chronic and may need a pain management plan that covers all the bases.
At Life Resolutions Doncaster, we understand that with individuals suffering from chronic pain, their emotional responses, background knowledge, and past experiences can either increase or decrease their present experience of pain. We also believe that chronic pain need not be a reason to stop you from living your best life, and that with the right kind of treatment and coping skills, you can get the most out of life.
A great deal of research has clarified the ways to build your health and wellbeing in the face of pain. Often your health professionals will work together to make sure you have the information you need.
Your psychologist would help you develop specific ways to minimise flareups and pain killers. A typical plan would also identify ways to maximise positive mood, restore good sleep, and retrain your brain after getting sensitised to pain signals.
When it comes to chronic pain, it is important to remember that it’s not necessary to be ‘pain free’ to have an enjoyable and worthwhile existence. You may not be able to embark upon exactly the same activities you enjoyed before the onset of your chronic pain, but your life can still be full of beauty, meaning and purpose. We can’t put our lives on hold waiting for the day some physical cure comes.
One of the first steps to living with chronic pain is to understand that accepting the pain does not mean you are giving in to it. Do not let your pain define you. You are capable of achieving much more than you believe at present. Over time, you can learn to shift your focus away from the pain, concentrating instead, for example, on individual moments that uplift you. Once you can conjure up and immerse yourself in moments that engage you – perhaps such as swimming in the ocean, smelling those roses, or eating your favourite food – it’s likely you’ll begin to feel the pain less.
Many people who suffer from chronic pain try to exercise ‘mind over matter’ by using their willpower to will away the pain. However, with a condition such as chronic pain, trying to will away the pain can leave you feeling worn out and disappointed. Chronic pain is exhausting in itself, without trying to convince yourself that it doesn’t exist. There is plenty of evidence and experience that managing chronic pain requires a different approach.
A straightforward starting point for some people is to learn to prioritise daily activities and then break them into smaller, achievable tasks. This can go a long way towards helping you increase how much you achieve. Start with something small, like preparing a meal. Even if it takes you an entire day to complete, by the end you can see, eat and celebrate the task you’ve achieved! Over time, you can find yourself achieving more and more tasks every day and feeling justifiably proud of your progress.
At Life Resolutions Doncaster, our trained team of counsellors, psychologists and therapists can help by teaching you effective ways to understand pain, minimise pain, reduce anxiety, and develop a management plan and the positive skills to continue with other parts of your life.
Contact us on 1300 668 256 for an appointment, or visit our website.