How I hate thee. Let me count the ways..
For those of us with chronic pain stress can cause more debilitating pain than the everyday pain we already experience.
I am not an expert, but I have found some key things to do that if done on a regular basis can help to reduce the amount of stress we encounter. Some stress in unavoidable no matter how hard you try and that’s where you need to develop some coping skills so you don’t end up in the bed for days at a time. Ill touch on that later.
First: STOP WATCHING THE NEWS.
If you believe most of what you see, just stop completely. Everything is going to kill. You can’t eat anything or take anything without suffering serious consequences down the road. You will suspect that quiet neighbor or having someone locked in the basement and you will fear for entire state of the world if you try to keep up with current events. If you have a pretty good filter then LIMIT the exposure to the news. Instead of everyday, do midweek. Its far better to hear something from a friend at work and “Say wow I didn’t hear that”, and then let it go, then to see it on the news, talk about it, think and dwell on it and take it with you to bed. We are inundated with bad news and it is very depressing. Even if you are unaware it can hang around there in the back of your psyche telling you what a sad state we are in. Children shooting teachers, health insurance and unemployment, cancer rates, the economy, hurricanes, overpopulation, chemicals and on and on and on…Enough already right? Lets dial back the crazy!
Second: REEVALUATE YOUR RELATIONSHIPS
Friends and relatives. Are they helping you up or pulling you down? Same as with the news….LIMIT your exposure to the “suckers”. I call them suckers because they drain you of everything you need. Energy, patience, dignity, sanity, and worst of all time. We don’t have a lot of time to throw it away on people who are unaware of how their constant demands or complaining can suck the life out of us. You don’t have to cut everyone off but take a serious inventory of how you feel mentally, emotionally and physically after you spend time with people and see who is a trigger for pain, or depression, headaches or fatigue. Let them know when you get together it can’t be 2 hours of complaining about life, parents, work and kids because it’s just not good for your health. Designate 20 minutes to vent about “whatever” then the rest of your time needs to be constructive and positive. Any true friend will understand.
Now those pesky relatives. Much harder!! I know! Try the same and then be prepares to stick to it. Take control of your environment. If they don’t honor your wishes you have to give a warning and follow through.
“If we can’t talk about something else, I’m going to have to leave”.
“This is going to stress me out so we need to change the subject”
“I am going to have to hang up if you keep…..but we can try again tomorrow”
“I love you but this is not good for my health and until you understand I cannot……”
“I do want to help you but THIS will make me sick with worry so can you brainstorm with me a different way to help you”
“I don’t want to have you over until you stop making me feel bad about…….”
Third: LEARN TO SAY NO.
Not a lot of explanation here. Don’t be the chauffeur and the therapist and the organizer. You cannot be all things to all people. Don’t take on too much for all your various reasons…only do what you head and body can handle. If you stretch yourself too thin you are no good to anyone in the first place. “I would love to but I can’t”.
No one will die if you don’t get the dishes or laundry done. So you make sure you all have clean underwear and forget the rest. If someone really needs something before you get on it, teach them how to load the washer or let them clean their own plate so they can eat. I REPEAT: NO ONE WILL DIE because you told your friend you can’t watch her kids, or you didn’t take out the recycling. Don’t get wrapped up in the baby mama drama, cheating, evictions, or the gossip from the daycare. It’s not good for you! So pace yourself and if you’re struggling, think about how important it really is on a scale from 1-10 and take it from there.
“Slow and steady wins the race”
Fourth: LET IT GO! Learn to let it go. Don’t stay angry or upset. Yes things suck, process it, and sit there in it for a MINUTE, then come up with a plan. If you can’t, then let it go. Come back to it later or get a second opinion. You make yourself sick by LETTING yourself stay in a negative state of thought. Life isn’t always easy but if you can deal with chronic pain you can deal with pretty much anything. Yell, cry or throw something (preferably something soft! No broken cell phones please!) and take that minute. But you have to let it go. You will get the headache, back and neck pain, tightness in the chest and the crinkle in the forehead because you can’t stop thinking about it. Find your Zen, phone a friend, lay in a dark room and imagine your happiest place. You HAVE to learn to let it go because it’s not good for you.
Fifth: AVOID YOUR TRIGGERS!
This is an assumption that you have already figured out some if not all of your triggers. I can’t stress enough that YOU have to limit all the things that make you feel bad. If you know you are going to have anxiety in a certain situation avoid it if you can. Some you can’t I know. Don’t skip the job interview or your doctor’s appointments of course. Why? Because, say it with me….THAT'S NOT GOOD FOR YOU! If you can’t avoid them use a coping mechanism.
- If it’s going someplace new, bring a friend or even two friends. Call ahead and find out when it’s the slow time. Ask questions of a staff member or volunteer to put you at ease when you get there.
- If its pain and shopping see if you can bring help, use the motorized cart or hire someone to run the errands. You can even barter with someone. Knit the neighbors kids some hats and mittens and she can grab you some things while she’s out.
- See if there are any local stores that can have things delivered.
- If its food just don’t eat it. Find something else. Sometimes ‘moderation” is not even a choice. For years I felt like junk after drinking beer and I repeatedly said “It’s not a hangover!” Come to find out I have a sensitivity to brewer’s yeast. So after nine months of no beer I had just ONE at a cookout and for 2 days after I paid for it dearly! NO MORE BEER for me. (And I don’t miss it, never really liked it anyway it was just for social reasons). Just ONE margarita with a few glasses of water I can do with no effects. Two margarita’s and the pain is through the roof. Too much caffeine, pain is through the roof. Chocolate gives me migraines. Doritos’ (before I quit them) gave me a headache and made me fall asleep hard after 15 minutes. Figure it out, once you do modify or stay away.
- If your always in pain after sitting in the rocker, move to the couch, bet pillows or pads.
Since I have implemented these AND learned to let go of the guilt associated with it, I have been less stressed and sometimes even laugh at things while other people are stressing out. Not to be disrespectful but I say “There’s nothing you can do so don’t freak out. Take that energy and put it someplace else!”
There are other things you can do and many different ways to do it but you MUST believe that you and your health are important enough to decide to make the changes, and stand your ground. It’s a process and you can have setbacks. Setbacks are okay. Just keep going.
YOU ARE WORTH IT!!