When you live with chronic pain, you spend a lot of your time focusing on your body.
This is, of course, completely inevitable. If your body is misbehaving or flaring, it tends to take a huge amount of time, effort, and strength just to go through your daily routine. Conditions like fibromyalgia are infamous for their “flares”, which can descend without invitation and without warning– one day you’re feeling good, the next day you feel wretched.
In the midst of coping with a flare, it’s easy to forget about another form of health– your mental health. Most of us who live with chronic pain expect that our mental health will take a knock when our physical health is struggling; it’s tough to be bright and bubbly when basic functionality is impeded by pain.
The way other people talk about chronic pain
Unfortunately, you may immediately be pulling back from the screen, wary that you’re going to suddenly hear the usual trite sayings that are thrown at people with chronic pain. Mind over matter! You just need to cheer up and then you’ll feel better! Everyone deals with pain sometimes, so there’s no point getting down about it!
We’ve all heard them, and they’re always nonsense; people who live without chronic pain speaking without thought, without any understanding of the toll that chronic pain can take. So don’t worry, there will be no cliches coming your way over the course of this post– just some food for thought.
Should you prioritize your mental health when your physical health is poor?
Most of us will immediately answer this with a resounding “no”. When things are rough, you’ve got enough on your plate, so you have absolutely no desire to add another thing that needs fixing to your to-do list.
However, there is scientific research to suggest that an improvement in mental health can help physical health too. This makes sense, given that the human body is all one singular system, and if one area is improved, the others get boosted too. Although there is absolutely no suggestion you can think yourself cured, there is evidence to suggest you can think yourself a little better— and when things are bad, even a fractional improvement is worth considering.
What you can do to boost your mental health during a flare
When you experience a flare, the last thing you’re going to want to do is sit down and meditate or go for a run– the most common suggestions people have in regards to improving mental health. So let’s keep things simple:
- Use fragrance to improve your mood. There is a proven link between our emotions and certain scents, so this is an area worth exploring. Companies such as AromaTech offer complete home fragrance solutions, so it’s worth taking to the time visit their website and peruse the options.
- Embrace daylight. Daylight has an essential role to play in our moods and mental health. If you’re feeling unwell, then it’s tempting to just curl up in a dark room. If possible, try and get as much daylight exposure during a flare as possible, even if it’s just through the window.
- Drink plenty of water. Research has linked dehydration with mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety, so ensuring you drink plenty of water during a flare is essential.
While the above ideas are not a cure, they can be an important piece of your armor when it comes to coping with the bad days– a time when there’s no doubt every little helps.