Living with a chronic pain condition can limit your ability to enjoy a full life. Many sufferers are unable to work and often find themselves cancelling plans with friends and family due to a combination of the constant pain and fatigue.
It is thought that about 50% of pain sufferers also struggle with anxiety or depression, a much higher figure than the general population. But, how are both physical and mental health linked?
What’s the connection?
One study of Fibromyalgia patients, carried out in Washington, found that those who also had an anxiety disorder reported more physical symptoms and the highest levels of pain when compared with those who didn’t suffer with anxiety.
Not being able to complete basic daily tasks can not only be frustrating, but, can also cause a pain sufferers world to revolve around their condition, and the pain that comes with it. This can lead to people withdrawing from friends and family, feeling pessimistic and insecure, and, an increase in anxiety, stress and depression.
It’s thought that depression and other mental health issues actually magnify pain. But being in pain also causes sufferers to feel anxious, alone and stressed - a vicious cycle - but, there are things we can do to improve our mental health.
Mental Health Awareness Week - How to Thrive Not Just Survive
1. Talk to somebody
Remember you’re not alone. There’s other people going through the same thing as you. If you don’t want to talk to your doctor, your friends and family are always there for you. You can also join a support group and share your experiences with other people in the same situation as yourself.
2. Avoid stress
Identify what your stress triggers are:
- If you get stressed about being late for an appointment, make sure you plan ahead and allow plenty of time to get there to avoid rushing.
- Never go to bed on an argument, this will cause your sleep to suffer and you will wake feeling grumpy, tired and possibly even more worried about the argument than you were the night before.
- If you need to de-stress, try a colouring book.
- Relax. Don’t worry that you let your friends down, it’s not your fault.
- Try some meditation or relaxation techniques to reduce muscle tension.
- Practice mindfulness.
3. Do more of what you love
Find a hobby. This can be anything from crosswords and SuDoku puzzles to knitting, colouring or painting. If you concentrate on your hobby, you can push your pain in to the background.
Improving your sleep pattern will improve your ability to cope with pain, and help to improve your mood. Here’s some tips on improving your sleep when you suffer from chronic pain.
Get involved and help others to thrive with their mental health by simply sharing this blog post with the tag #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek