Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Chronic pain can hurt your mind and mood

Chronic pain doesn't just hurt your body; it hurts your emotions, too. It can impact your mood, your memory, your relationships, and your overall quality of life -- if you let it. Don'tlet it. Negative emotions will only worsen your pain and, in turn, mess more with your mind and mood. To avoid this vicious cycle, tailor a comprehensive pain-management plan that minimizes both the physical and emotional impacts of chronic pain.

Pain-Proof Your Mood

A continually sore, achy body can understandably cause frustration, anger, anxiety, and depression. Occasional bouts of such emotions may not be a big deal, but if they persist, it's important to take action. Distract yourself from pain and brighten your mood by engaging in activities you love. Explore new stress-reduction techniques, work with a cognitive behavioral therapist, or join a pain support group

Pain Can Hurt Your Self-Esteem

Pain can diminish job performance, dampen your motivation to exercise, and prevent you from completing daily tasks. Such limitations cause some pain sufferers to get down on themselves or to view their condition as a sign of weakness or a personal defect. Don't go down that road. Seek the aid of a therapist or support group if pain is eroding your self-esteem.

Don't Let Pain Isolate You

When you hurt all the time, the last thing you want to do is attend the company party, the neighbor's backyard barbecue, or even small gatherings with your closest friends and family. Don't let pain drive you into social isolation. To stay connected, focus on the quality, not quantity, of friendships. Nurture ties with a handful of close, supportive friends versus a vast network of more superficial acquaintances. 

Pain Can Hurt Your Marriage

When you hurt all the time, it's tough to complete household chores, take care of the kids, contribute financially, or fully participate in normal family activities. Sexuality and intimacy can also take a hit. Frustration, resentment, and communication breakdowns can occur -- especially when a spouse doesn't understand or sympathize with the sufferer's condition. Solution: Seek guidance from a marriage counselor to help rebuild your relationship. 

Fight Pain-Induced Fatigue

Pain is exhausting. A sore back, hip, or knee can steal your sleep, send your stress levels skyrocketing, and drain your motivation to exercise. Reduce fatigue by integrating the right self-care measures into your pain management plan. Eat a healthy diet, kick your bad habits, get more sleep, and exercise every day. You'll feel more energized and cope better with your pain.

Pain Can Hurt Job Performance

It's hard to stay on your game at work when you hurt all the time. Pain can diminish concentration, memory, critical thinking abilities, and productivity. Solution: Talk to your doctor about daytime pain medications that won't sedate you, and get the sleep and exercise you need to keep your brain humming. Short, daytime naps may also help. Don't overcompensate by becoming a workaholic.

Take It Easy at Home

It's hard to manage a household when you constantly hurt. Running errands, managing finances, and taking care of the kids, the pets, and a spouse can feel overwhelming. Remember to pace yourself, simplify, and let go of perfection. It's also okay to ask family members for help. Your home should be your sanctuary from pain, not something that aggravates it.

Pain and Your Doctor

Does your doctor take your pain seriously or do you get the impression he or she thinks it's "all in your head?" Chronic pain, especially without a clear underlying cause, can be tricky to treat, and some doctors are better-equipped than others to do so. Bottom line: Pain is a real condition that can be effectively treated. If you're not getting relief from your doctor, it's time to find a new one.

Take Back Your Power

Pain can bring loss -- loss of your physical function, your athletic abilities, a favorite hobby, a career, and even close relationships. While it's healthy to grieve, don't let pain make you a victim. Take back your power. To start, try to accept that pain is a part of your life, but does not control who you are or your ability to improve, cope, and thrive. 

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