Defeat the Pain Cycle

The Dreaded Cycle of Pain; Finding your way out

Envision this: You are in pain and want to be active so you can increase your quality of life, but the movement seems to cause more pain at times. It seems easier to sit down and do nothing compared to the effort it takes to get moving and stretch. Inherently, you know movement is good for pain management, but it feels like a double-edged sword. Moving causes pain but a lack of movement has also led to tight hips and lower back muscles over time. Pain can feel like a never-ending cycle that we get stuck in with no apparent way out. The next thing you know, we are managing pain with “band-aids” like injections and opioids that mask the pain but never really seem to cure it. This inevitably leads to a poor quality of life and trouble performing once simple activities of daily life like tying our shoelaces or going on a walk.

Don’t worry, there is a way out, though it may not be a clear-cut path! It will take some mindfulness and effort on your end!

It can be very easy to look at health from a one size fits all perspective. Health is a very personal matter and very related to how you are treating your body choices that are made in your daily life. It can also be affected by the environment around you.

Let’s break it down by looking at the wellness wheel (click link to view image) and some examples of how pain can affect the different dimensions.

 

Emotional Health:

  • Are you getting 7-9 hours of sleep per night?
    • Keeping a log of your pain and how it differs based on the amount of sleep you get may be eye-opening. Our muscles rest and recover better after a good night’s rest.
  • Are you seeking help from a licensed counselor when you are in distress?
    • Stress can lead to tense muscles, especially in your neck and upper back! If you are going through a hard time, talking to a licensed counselor through your employee EAP program can make a big difference!

 

Intellectual Health:

  • Improving your intellectual health includes reading and opening your mind/challenging your beliefs. It requires lifelong work!
    • Pain can lead to a foggy mind, which impedes our ability to think. It can cause us to feel unfocused and distracted in life.

 

Physical Health:

  • Physical health is an area most are familiar with. Exercise, sleep, nutrition, substance use/abuse.
    • Limiting medications and alcohol dependence may help your muscles recover faster. *Always take medications as prescribed by your physician.
    • Self-medicate by incorporating more movement into your day! Movement causes endorphins (feel-good drugs) to be released in our brains!
    • Move regularly and walk often – Our muscles act as pumps to help blood circulate back to our hearts efficiently. Are you starting to feel jittery? This is your body signaling you that it is time to move or change positions!

Social/Relational Health:

  • Is pain affecting your social life and/or interpersonal relationships?
    • Do you have social support? – If you are working to manage your pain, having a strong social circle can help lead to adherence and satisfaction.
    • Tell your friends or someone close to you about your plan to manage your pain.

 

Environmental Health:

  • This is not limited to recycling and “going green.”
  • Is there clutter in your life that is causing you not to have time to focus on yourself?
    • Make a to-do list and cross things off as you complete them. This can lead to a sense of accomplishment.
  • Have you thought about how your actions and persona affect the environment/others around you?

 

Financial Health:

  • Financial health is one you’ve probably heard of, setting a budget, paying off debt, preparing for retirement, and mindful spending.
  • How does your pain affect your bottom line?
    • Copay’s
    • Prescription drug costs
    • Over-the-counter drug costs
    • Medical tests, MRI’s, X-rays
    • Injections

 

Spiritual Health:

  • This category is not limited to but can include faith. Think about your morals and beliefs daily. Practice self-care such as meditation and yoga. Set a good example of how to lead your life.
    • Think about how pain can have a negative effect on your spiritual health.

 

Vocational Health:

  • Do you find joy and meaning in your work?
  • Do you take full advantage of the resources offered to you by your employer?
  • Does pain affect your focus at work and lead to presenteeism?
  • Have you missed work due to pain?

 

All of this may seem overwhelming! This is not meant to be an activity that is complete all at once. It takes constant adapting and readjusting as life events happen to all of us. Chat with your SimpleTherapy coach for support and guidance while you are on your pain journey with SimpleTherapy!

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