What we believe and think create our reality. Our mental health is key to recovery from chronic pain, from substance use, and from the emotional suffering of a life limiting illness. So knowing what you can do about it is so important.
Thoughts, feelings, beliefs and activities are very important in the experience of pain. That’s why its important to know that your thoughts and the things you do when you’re in pain are all under YOUR control. By learning ways of addressing negative thoughts associated with pain, and ways of keeping active, you can take greater control of your pain and your life.
Pain is a part of being alive, and something we all share as human beings……but at the same time, it is very personal. Two people can be in the same pain producing situation but one can be in excruciating pain, while the other experiences only a mild discomfort.
One of the reasons for this is "context" or the meaning around the situation. A professional hockey player can skate on a broken ankle in a do-or-die playoff game during a penalty kill, but the same injury in a practice round will drop him to the ice immediately.
Stress, depression, anxiety, PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder), feeling unsupported or not understood by others all have an effect on your ability to stay sober. Situations that drain our willpower, like just being hungry, feeling overwhelmed or lonely and being tired can all sap your strength to make good decisions. Being calm and rested helps prevent lapses.
Structured Relapse Prevention therapy can be particularly helpful and is done primarily by specialized addictions counselors. But anything that protects or promotes your emotional health will be helpful.
Change your mood by changing your behaviours. Read more about how CBT works for chronic pain here.
This online course from Australia can be prescribed for you.
This Canadian online course is only $45 in total.
CBT references something called "automatic thoughts" and you can learn more about this with this video.
Focusing on the good in your life, and the study of what makes life worth living. Read more about what positive psychology is here, watch a video on it below, or access an android phone app here that focuses on affirmations. Feeling adventurous? Take the famous course from Yale at Coursera on Well-Being.
Proven techniques to reduce stress and pain and become more connected to the present moment (important if you suffer from anxiety or PTSD) include meditation, guided imagery, body scans, and body movement. Read more here from Harvard Medical School, learn guided imagery techniques here, download a workbook here and experience guided meditations with Tara Brach.
Connex Ontario provides service options across Ontario.
Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous meetings continue to run online and by phone. SMART recovery has online options as well. MyRecovery has online connection opportunities as does In The Rooms.
AbilitiCBT's pandemic related programs are currently paid for by the Ontario government. Wellness Together is a Canadian support for anyone with mental health or substance use concerns and offers free live counseling by phone or by text. TogetherAll is an online anonymous peer support community for mental health. This online free course from Monash University teaches mindfulness.
Automatic thoughts affect the way we feel and behave, including automatic thoughts like "this pain will never end" "I can’t do anything because of my pain!" and "what if this is the best I will ever feel"?