As I describe in my book Outsmart Your Pain ™, pain can be a constant distraction in daily life, contributing to increased stress and causing cognitive inefficiency. The following steps have been recommended by the American Psychology Association to improve how we can cope better with pain. As the basis of the mind-body connection, these techniques influence our hormones in positive ways, balancing our psychoneuroimmunology which is key to good health. We encourage you to positively influence the quality of your life by the following these simple pain coping strategies:
- Staying active – It’s important not to let pain take over your life. Acceptance of what is happening now is important but don’t let it discourage you from taking a walk or doing whatever it takes to overcome inertia. As we age, we need to be active to overcome the challenges of aging and the influence of gravity.
- Exercise – Stay healthy with low-impact exercises such as stretching, yoga, walking or pool exercises. New online classes are readily available making exercise even easier. Home-based therapy and exercise are easier than ever.
- Knowing your limits – Continue to be active but don’t push yourself to do more than you can handle at any one time. Remember to allow yourself adequate rest after exercise.
- Making social connections – Research shows that people with greater social support are more resilient and experience less depression and anxiety.
- Expressing gratitude – Gratitude and appreciation for the positive aspects of our lives are key. Keeping a gratitude journal helps to remind us of the positive aspects and this helps to balance the challenging ones.
- Distracting yourself – When pain flares, find ways to distract your mind from it such as reading a book, playing brain games, watching a movie, taking a walk in nature, or engaging in a hobby. Pleasant experiences can help you cope with pain.
By Lisa Barr, MD.