Strategies for Coping With Chronic Pain

People differ in how they deal with life’s problems, including pain. It depends on our personality, how we receive social support, and what events have happened to us throughout our lives. Scientific research also indicates that there is a certain way of acting in the case of stress, which is called the style of coping.

Pain and illness are often accompanied by fear and stress. Fear of pain can have different dimensions. In the case when a physical threat is present, eg illness, it is normal and motivates us to act – seek help. However, when the fear persists even though you are safe, it is a disturbing signal – you are probably worried too much. Then it will be advisable that you become interested in ways to combat stress. You can read more about this topic here: (link to article about stress).

Lack of fear can mean that you are dealing well with your problem or that you are not in any way troubled. On the other hand, it may indicate that you are ignoring your problem and are not trying to solve it. As you can see, anxiety and stress can be both adaptive (beneficial) and destructive (unfavorable), depending on the situation that happens to you.

In the fight against pain, it is extremely important that you adapt to it. Sometimes it is difficult to bear and it accompanies us continuously. Even so, it is important that you have a sense of control over pain. Know that you can influence it with different methods and you have the right to demand from specialists the means that will allow you to relieve pain. Remember that it is you who know best the pain that accompanies you and you should play the main role in setting a program to fight it. Do not hesitate to provide your doctor with information about how your pain changes, in which situations you are accompanied and how effective your previous interventions are.

It is also important that you think positively about yourself despite your illness. Pain and the loss of some abilities cause people to lose their self-esteem. It is important that you evaluate yourself and your life not only through the prism of the disease, but also be able to positively interpret your own new activities – including those that allow you to fight pain and prevent further development of symptoms.

Strategies of coping with pain, in contrast to the style of coping, are actions that are taken in the “here and now” – they are variable and are adapted to a specific situation. They can be addressed directly to solve the problem, to emotions or to avoid it by engaging in substitute activities or seeking social contacts. Coping with emotion-focused pain can be based, for example, on conversations with a friend and family, and focused on the problem – on taking specific actions, like trying to change a doctor and trying out new pain-controlling techniques. Conversely, avoidance consists in engaging in activities that will turn our attention away from pain. It is, for example, playing sports, watching movies and reading books. The above strategies are not mutually exclusive – ideally if you can use them flexibly in a proportion that will be most helpful to you.

What can you do to deal with pain?

Stay active

Often the first reaction of the patient to the news about the disease is to give up part of their current duties and start a more passive lifestyle. Unfortunately, this has an adverse effect not only on our health, but also on the psyche. It is important to try to live normally and not to withdraw from professional or social life despite illness. If you can not cope with your current activities, such as household chores, first ask for help from your relatives – perhaps you will not need to resign from their performance, but only to make some changes.

Take care of relationships with people

Social support plays an extremely important role in the fight against pain. However, our relationships with loved ones may worsen due to illness. Pain is a source of negative emotions that we transfer to others. You have to learn to control it. It is natural that the sufferer has less motivation for socializing and conversations – pain and well-being do not allow her to fully enjoy contacts with others. Despite this, the effort to maintain relations with the environment in the future pays off – other people can provide us with support not only emotional, but also provide useful information (in case they are other patients) and help materially. Good relationships with people is a prerequisite for maintaining well-being and mental health.

Regulate the breath

Breath regulation helps to cope with pain in the case of acute pain resulting from the collagen, which are associated, for example, with gallstones, it is also used in the fight against chronic pain. Taking deep breaths and focusing on their pace and intensity allows us to calm down, stop the flow of thoughts and turn them away from pain. By relaxing and regulating the breath, it is also possible to feel more painful waves. Deep diaphragmatic breathing is the opposite of the shallow and uneven breath that accompanies us during stress. Thanks to it, we provide our body with oxygen more fully and relieve muscle tension.

Apply relaxation techniques

Relaxation can have a beneficial effect on our body and soul, and, above all, reduce pain sensations. It allows you to reduce muscle tension, move away from everyday worries and reduce agitation. Before starting relaxation, it is worth taking care of the appropriate surroundings: noise and convenience. Enjoying quiet, calm music is also beneficial when relaxing. Relaxation can be additionally combined with visualization – you can, for example, imagine yourself walking on the seashore and perform delicate exercises adapted to this image – pouring sand between your fingers, rocking to the rhythm of the sea waves, etc. You can also focus more on here and now – sequentially on all parts of your body, thinking about how they are relaxed and relaxed. Relaxation in a sitting position with closed eyes is most beneficial. Do not be discouraged if the trainings do not bring immediate results – they have to be used for a long time, so that your ideas become more vivid, and the displacement of intrusive thoughts more effective.

Perform physical exercises regularly

Many people, as the disease progresses, give up physical activity, in order to escape pain – this is the case, for example, in rheumatic diseases or back pains. In reality, however, it is the movement and gentle sport that has a beneficial effect on our body and helps to prevent joint immobility or obesity. The set of exercises should, however, be consulted with a doctor and selected according to your condition. Pain, for example, helps yoga to fight pain. Here are some simple exercises that (if there are no contraindications) you can do yourself:

Rolling the spine

Stand on slightly bent legs, feet spacing at the width of the hips. Then, very slowly, starting from the cervical vertebrae, lower your torso down, trying to do it consciously, vertically around the circle. Stay in the position of the abandoned torso for a while, then slowly, vertically circle up the vertebra to the upright position. Repeat the exercise several times.

Cradle. It is a stretching exercise, which consists in taking a lying position on the stomach. Next, we should grasp the ankles with our hands and try to lift our legs up. The top of our torso will also automatically lift. Exercise can be repeated in succession by loosening and tensioning the body, while remembering about regular and slow breathing.

Chinese squat. Kneel down on the floor and reach out as far as you can reach. Then, without taking your knees and feet off the floor, put your hands on the floor in front of you as far as you can and stand in that position for several seconds. Repeat the exercise several times.