Are you ready to thrive? Then it is time to take a look at the 5 steps from Ow to Wow and make your own Thriving with Pain Plantm.
Thriving takes awareness and developing mindfulness. When we are in pain, a natural reaction is to get as far away from it as possible. As a matter of fact, distraction is one of the pain management techniques that is taught. Ignoring chronic pain does not make it go away. I have found that my body tends to continue to try and deal with it even when I am distracted. My muscles still compensate by tensing up and I breathe shallowly. I am of the kitchen sink school of thought. (Everything including the kitchen sink to treat and deal with pain.) Distraction is a good technique but it is only effective for as long as you are distracted and then the pain is right back.
Awareness allows you to track what is happening and then allows for a space to make choices instead of reacting from habit. Mindfulness allows you to be present in the moment without judgment or the sense of needing to fix anything; it can bring you a sense of calm, peace, kindness, and compassion. In many ways, this is the opposite of distraction.
I used distraction when I was a Licensed Massage Therapist. I would be working on a painful area and I would put my other hand somewhere else to distract attention so that the body would accept the deeper work. I have found that chronic pain is different or at least when there is a central nervous system sensitization. The effects of the work flair up at the site no matter how much “distraction” there is because the central nervous system is on high alert.
Becoming aware and mindful are challenging in our society for anyone. Adding in chronic pain just ups the anti. But no one else but you knows what it is like to live with your pain 24/7. Only you can describe this symptom that is important for your health and well-being. If you use distraction as your main strategy, it is impossible to report your experience because you aren’t really present for it.
Mindfulness brings the added advantage of calm. Your Vagus nerve is engaged and you are able to increase your parasympathetic nervous system which supports pain relief. It is paradoxical, but by being present with the pain, the pain can be reduced. There are a number of techniques that you can use to find the one(s) that work best for you. Often this can change over time. It is like a spiral of healing so that what works for a while may need to be tweaked or a whole new approach maybe needed.
Mindfulness and awareness are important skills and tools but they are only part of thriving. Developing these set you up well for the next steps on your path from Ow to Wow!