As a Sanvello Coach, I regularly support people coping with chronic pain, but I’ve also been living with it for more than a decade. If you’re someone who deals with ongoing pain, you know how hard it can be and how it can impact the way you function from day to day.
We’re often so busy focusing on the physical challenges chronic pain brings that we forget about the emotional and mental health toll that it can also take. I’ll be honest, it hasn’t been easy for me. A lot has gone into my pain management throughout the years, but the biggest lesson I’ve learned is the importance of listening to my body, as opposed to letting the pain rule me.
What does that mean exactly? I’ve broken it down into helpful strategies so that you too can learn to listen to your body, prioritize your emotional wellbeing, and understand that you are not alone on your journey.
- Pick up on the signs your body is giving you. Your body can be a well of knowledge, advising you in real time on what it needs. Taking pauses throughout your day and allowing yourself the space to listen can be incredibly informative. Does your body need rest, nourishment, movement, or anything else at the moment?
- Identify calming strategies. Tools like meditation, deep breathing, mantras, or positive visualizations can help to alleviate suffering and bring you back to the present moment. One good place to start is this Sanvello breathing meditation.
- Reframing unhelpful thoughts. When your mind is telling you things like your pain is going to control your life forever, say, “Whoa, hold up…” and try to seek out a new, more realistic, perspective. I find it helpful to remind myself that the pain and related limitations are present, but that doesn’t mean they are allowed to control my day.
- Seek out joyful activities. Find things in life that bring you a sense of happiness and try incorporating them into your weekly routine. This may include walks outside, diving into a book, or picking up a new hobby such as painting. Whatever works for you!
- Take time to stretch. A lot of chronic pain can be exacerbated by stress. For many, stretching is a great way to relax the body and work out any forms of tension that are present. Personally, this one is a regular go-to coping tool that makes a big difference for me.
- Reach out for support. It may sound like a no-brainer, but hear me out. You likely have a medical care team, but outside of that, who can you confide in when things are tough? Or who can be there to participate in the joyful activities I mentioned earlier? Find your people and do your best to communicate your needs. Try using our Circle of Support tool to guide you in building your team.
- Practice gratitude. Ugh, I know you’ve heard this one, but that’s because it actually works. Choosing to focus on what you’re grateful for, even if it’s as small as the sun shining outside, can make a world of difference. Try making a short list each morning, evening, or anytime you’re feeling stuck.
Letting chronic pain rule your body is an easy thing to fall victim to, but learning to retrain your mind can give you back your power. I know it can be so hard, but I encourage you to spend your days the way you want, to the best of your ability, even when the physical symptoms are there. Reach out for support, nurture yourself, remember that you deserve a full and beautiful life.
By Kristina Danielson, Sanvello Coaching Operations Coordinator
Kristina believes that finding balance in your health and well-being is an ever-evolving journey. As a coach, she supports clients in an empathetic way while being an active listener. When she’s not seeing clients, Kristina loves to read and enjoys spending sunny days outdoors with her husband.