The year 2020 is almost upon us. Managing your mental health can have very positive impacts on your chronic pain — when starting off this new decade, let’s make it a goal to prioritize mental health. Here’s the how and why.
Chronic physical pain is pain that lasts more than 12 weeks. After three months of pain, chances are you’re also struggling with your mental health from not only the constant pain but the frustration, exhaustion, and misunderstanding that comes with it all.
Although there is no cure for chronic pain, there are positive impacts on patients who prioritize mental health. It is also worth noting that mental illness has a high rate of comorbidity with chronic pain, so managing mental health should be a part of the overall plan of care.
There are several reasons to keep your mental health in check and ways you will see positive impacts on your physical pain.
Managing mental health reduces stress.
One reason to keep mental health at the top of your priority list is to help with your stress levels. Stress is proven to increase pain, so any way to reduce your stress levels will give you some relief.
Mental health practices that help to reduce stress include:
- Time management. By managing your time well, you will be less overwhelmed by your to-do list and agenda. Invest in a planner or whiteboard where you can block out time for things you need to do and visualize a plan of how you will get those stressful things done in time. Google calendar or other online tools can also do the trick.
- Talk to someone. Don’t do it alone! Life is hard. Confide in your friends and family and talk out tough decisions and what is stressing you out. The Branch community can also be very helpful here.
- Therapy. Don’t wait for a crisis to make an appointment with a therapist.
Managing mental health relaxes your body.
Chronic pain has been shown to positively react to meditation and relaxation practices. Those who keep mental health a priority will set aside time to relax and practice breathing techniques.
This will help to relax muscles, etc.
Try to implement the following practices into your everyday life to keep your mental health at its best:
- Meditation. Branch is one of the many apps that can walk you through a guided breathing session or meditation (check out Branch’s Expert Feed!). This will help not only your meditation but will calm your entire body. Try to carve out time for this daily.
- Regular sleep schedule. Mental health is greatly impacted by sleep patterns. By keeping the same bedtime and wake time, your mind and body will know what to expect and stay regulated.
Managing mental health keeps you in tune with your body.
By making mental health a priority, you will be checking in with yourself every day. One incredible outcome of this is that those with chronic pain can create a stronger link between body and mind.
Each day you keep your mental health at the forefront, you get to know yourself a little better. You will learn your triggers and notice what helps and hurts your body physically and mentally.
We’re heading into the new year, so let’s try to give your body what it deserves, mentally and physically. The time is now! As we know, chronic pain is an ongoing struggle and any way to get a sense of relief should be explored. Try to implement some of the above mental health management techniques and you will hopefully see positive impacts on your pain levels and overall health.
About the Author: Kimberly Charleson is a freelance health and medical writer and also works part-time as a social worker in an assisted living facility.