CHRONIC PAIN AND MENTAL HEALTH

Jan 28, 2020

No matter what knowledge you have about the inner workings of the human body, many of us have at least heard of the mind-body connection.

This concept is relatively self-explanatory, and states that by-products of our mind (such as thought patterns, emotions, habits, behaviors, etc.) are influenced by our physical body.

The same also applies to the impact our body has on our mind. This means that poor health choices in either realm can have a negative impact that extends far beyond one area of your life.

For example, these days you may be spending more time engaging in sedentary activities like watching TV while slouched on the couch or hunching over your computer without taking any breaks.

If you do this for a short period of time (even just an hour), you may find yourself experiencing minor pains in your lower back, legs, neck, and wrists. These aches will persist if you continue to assume poor posture.

These minor concerns can potentially lead to long-term injuries that result from overuse, including carpal tunnel syndrome, muscle sprains, herniated discs, and spinal nerve compression.

If you continue to sit with poor posture, you may also have trouble focusing, become overly sleepy or fidgety, and get impatient. Just as we get physical cues to alert us to what is unhealthy for our body, our mind also provides us with these warnings when we are not functioning our best.

This can be especially impactful for those with chronic pain who may already be experiencing difficulty concentrating, chronic fatigue, and poor endurance. Individuals living with chronic pain may be more deeply impacted by these signs, which have the potential to trigger pain levels, offset mood, impair function, and more.

For this reason, it is important for individuals with chronic pain to engage in activities that not only establish the mind-body connection, but work to strengthen it. Here are some activities that you might want to look into:

  • Use the treadmill on a low speed while reading a book
  • Take a walk in nature and pay attention to the sights, sounds, and smells around you
  • Do some restorative yoga in your favorite place (porch, backyard, childhood vacation spot)
  • Be fully aware of the sensations in your body; try this both when you are in pain and when you are feeling well; ask yourself some of the following questions:
    • What emotions are you experiencing at this moment?
    • Where do you feel these emotions (or the pain) most?
    • Are other body functions being affected right now?
    • Are you finding it more difficult to breathe? Do you feel yourself sweating?
  • Train your body and mind to be simultaneously still by engaging in a meditation practice
  • Slump over in your chair and notice how you feel; now adjust your posture with your shoulders rolled back, neck in neutral, and head looking straight ahead; notice the effect this adjustment has on your energy and pain levels
  • Cook a complex recipe while taking breaks as needed
  • Learn to dance; you can teach yourself a series of steps or simply move to the beat of your favorite song

These are just a few ways that you can enhance the connection between your mind and body to become more aware of emotional and physical sensations that you experience.

By understanding the feelings and thoughts running through your mind and learning more about what your body’s signals mean, you can gain a deeper understanding of how to heal your body from health concerns like chronic pain.

While these at-home steps can help you with chronic pain, it is also important to seek support to guide you through the process.

Reach out to a Pain Mentor today to learn how planning can change the way you view chronic pain relief!

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