How a positive attitude and being thankful can help chronic pain
November 10, 2020
Studies show that practicing gratitude even when it’s more difficult to find things to be thankful for can have a huge effect on not only your mental health but also on your physical health. Being grateful and having a positive attitude is important to your overall pain management strategy.
Our brains physically change when we experience positive or negative emotions. This can play a significant role in how well we manage pain, especially on a day-to-day basis. Since your mind and body are always communicating, the way you perceive pain can change how you feel. This is why it can be beneficial for many people to try changing their perspectives regarding chronic pain.
How to have a positive attitude about chronic pain
Negative thoughts come up naturally in times of stress, and chronic pain can be very stressful. One idea we love that has been successful for many people is keeping a gratitude journal. We talk a lot about pain journals, and the ideas are similar. While a pain journal is all about chronicling the pain you are experiencing and related details, a gratitude journal is a place to focus on the good things in your life.
Journaling won’t make depression or chronic pain go away, but it can improve your overall attitude. It does not have to be difficult or time-consuming. You can start by writing down three things you are thankful for each day and include successes and things you accomplished. You may find strength and inspiration in your own words. Small things every day can add up to something big.
Here are a few other tips for improving your attitude and finding gratitude even in the midst of chronic pain.
- Manage stress as much as possible. Finding healthy ways to deal with stress may help you find some relief from pain, and it will definitely help your attitude. For example, deep breathing can help you relax, relieve tension, and calm a noisy mind. Try deep breathing alone or with yoga or mindfulness meditation.
- Stay active and involved. By doing activities you enjoy, you can focus on something other than pain. This can take on many forms from daily walks to regular phone conversations with friends. However, when it comes to physical activity, be sure you know your limits, and don’t try to do too much.
- Do your best to sleep. Everything seems better after a good night’s sleep, but chronic pain and sleeplessness can seem like a never-ending cycle. Lack of sleep can lead to irritability, anxiety, and depression while getting enough sleep can help you think more clearly, improve your mood, and reduce stress.
- Get support. In a support group, you can share your experience with others who have gone through similar situations. They may have advice to share about how they have been able to stay positive despite being in pain.
- Be open with friends and family. When you isolate yourself from others due to pain, you may have a negative attitude. Find ways to stay connected with friends and family, and talk to them honestly. They will likely be understanding and supportive, which can improve your mood and attitude.
When you are dealing with pain, it can be easy to overlook things in your life that you take as givens, such as your family, regular income, and insurance. Without these things, pain management would be much more difficult and maybe even impossible. Don’t forget these essentials in your life, but instead, take time to be thankful for them.
During this season of Thanksgiving and always, find things to be grateful for and acknowledge them. Write these things down in a journal and say “thank you” out loud to the people in your life.