There are two main types of pain, physical and emotional/mental pain. Many times, or as I believe most times, they go hand in hand. I have seen many people who have suffered physical injuries develop emotional trauma along side that injury. I have seen others who have suffered emotional trauma or pain that then manifests as physical ailments.
Unfortunately as we move through this life we will all experience pain of some sort. I hope that your pain is mild and significant suffering never comes your way.
But for those of us who have experienced such, are in the midst of it, or want to ‘prepare’ for pain in the future, I put together some tips that have been helpful for me and some of those closest to me. Hopefully they can help you too.
- You are not alone:
When we are suffering, our attention usually drops deep within ourselves. We begin to lose sight and focus on the world around us. It becomes very easy to think that we are the ONLY one experiencing such pain. It becomes very easy to believe that NO ONE else could possibly understand what we are going through.
Well, that is simply not true. No matter who unique your situation is, there is someone else who understands your pain. And if there is no one close to you that has ever been in a similar situation, I am sure there is someone who has experienced suffering. And we are all in this together. Suffering can be a great unifier, if we let it.
So take a moment and expand your focus to the outside world. To those closest to you and those far away. You will probably start to notice you are in fact not alone. Sometimes just realizing that is enough. It can be refreshing and comforting, although also sad, to know you are NOT the only one suffering in this world.
- Reach out:
This can be difficult. Who do you reach out to? What do you say?
I hear a lot that people don’t want to be a bother or a burden. GUYS! Come on!!!!! What on earth do you think family and friend are for?!?!
If you don’t know, it’s support!!! WE HAVE FAMILY AND FRIENDS FOR SUPPORT!!!!
But I get it. I still struggle with reaching out, but I am getting better at it every day. I reach out more to people now than EVER before. And people want to help, but many times they simply just don’t know what to do. They don’t know if you need a hug, or an ear to listen, or food, or to be distracted….
So it is YOUR job, to tell them what you need. Or if you don’t know what you need, say that! It will be a relief to them to either know and give you what you need, or to know that you don’t know and offer their assistance in the best possible way they can.
Time and time again it has been shown that we hold trauma in our bodies. Whether physical or emotional, if we don’t deal with it, it will stay in us and rear its ugly head at some point.
A great way to begin to work through this is movement. Movement changes the chemical composition of our brain and body and better allows us the capability of dealing with trauma and pains.
Movement helps to:
Improve our mood (ummm, yes please)
Improves digestion (anyone else have issues with this during times of pain?!)
Improves cognitive abilities (allows you to navigate through brain fog easier)
Improves circulation (always beneficial for healing, both physically and mentally)
Changes your perspective (even if for a short time, changing your point of view can be just what you need)
Helps your body resolve traumas (specifically shaking/tremors can be very beneficial for releasing trauma in the body)
Helps you take the next step (sometimes we just need that ONE thing that helps us move forward that next step)
- Write it out:
Writing down your feelings or thoughts can be especially tough during painful times, but it can be very cathartic.
Writing allows us to put into words things we don’t want to say out loud, or maybe afraid to say to other people. It allows us to better process the jumble of thoughts racing through our brain. Writing can help you to solve issues, see things from a different light, or relieve tension from just releasing the pent up thoughts.
Writing can allow you to realize thoughts or emotions you didn’t know you even had. It can be such a relief to GET THEM OUT. And hey, if you are worried someone will read these things, burn it! Rip it up and throw it away. Give it to the dog to eat (don’t actually do this because we don’t want Princess FluffBall to have to go to the vet. We have enough to worry about)
Meditating can help calm our nervous system and allows our body a moment to take a break. When we are in pain, physical or emotional, our bodies perceive this as danger. And it doesn’t know the difference between REAL danger and chronic back pain, or whiplash, or a divorce or the loss of a loved one. Our bodies were designed to keep us alive, and if they sense any type of danger, they are going to assume you are running for your life from a famished lion. Your body will stay in this state.
Mediation and/or prayer can help coax your mind and then body out of this state, even just temporarily, which gives it a chance to recover and begin healing. Your body and mind deserve that chance to begin to heal. Give yourself that chance.
And listen, you don’t have to meditate or pray for hours on end. If I recommended that, people would just get frustrated and it would set people up for failure in a fragile time. So try for maybe 10 minutes. Maybe even 5 minutes if 10 is too much. Just start the process and as your mind and body start to get used to it, then you can start increasing your time. If you want that is. Just try. And give it a week before making any decision to give it up. Give it 7 days and then if you still hate it, or you aren’t noticing any difference at all, then move on. Definitely don’t beat yourself up over it!
- Find an outlet:
A HEALHTY OUTLET…so not drinking, smoking, dangerous behavior, promiscuous behavior, binge eating, under eating, excessive exercise, or any other activity that will be detrimental to your health. Life is hard enough when you are in pain, don’t make it any harder on yourself.
If you like art, try painting or coloring. If you like outdoors, try hiking or finding new parks to visit. Volunteer at an animal shelter or nursing home. Find new movies to watch or books to read. Join a chess club or knitting club or boxing club…WHATEVER it is that interests you, brings you joy, or makes you happy, make time to do that. Really! It’s not selfish to take care of yourself, I promise.
During my toughest year, I painted and went on MANY MANY hikes. And those were my escapes. And it was such a nice relief to be able to leave the pain behind for just a moment before having to deal with it again. It helped me come back stronger and more resilient each time.
- Get outside:
That’s it. I don’t care what you are doing, so long as it’s safe. Just get outside. Every single day. Even if just for a few minutes. After a week or two, see what a difference it makes.
If you are going through a painful time or know someone who is, remember most importantly that you are NOT alone. YOU ARE NOT ALONE! Maybe give a few of these a try and see if it helps clear out some of that dark fog in your life.
Let me know if any of these are helpful to you, or if YOU have any suggestions that have been helpful to you in times of crisis, pain or trauma.