Chronic pain is physically and psychologically stressful and its constant discomfort can lead to anger and frustration with yourself and your loved ones. By definition, chronic pain is pain that lasts longer than six months and affects how a person lives their daily life. While physicians can provide treatment for the physical dimensions of chronic pain, psychologists are uniquely trained to help you manage the mental and emotional aspects of this often debilitating condition. The American Psychological Association offers the following tips on coping with chronic pain:
Manage your stress. Eating well, getting plenty of sleep, and engaging in approved physical activity are all positive ways for you to handle your stress and pain.
Talk to yourself constructively. Positive thinking is a powerful tool. Focus on the improvements you are making, i.e. the pain is less today than yesterday or you feel better than you did a week ago, can make a difference in your perceived comfort level.
Become active and engaged. Distracting yourself from your pain by engaging in activities you enjoy will help you highlight the positive aspects of your life.
Find support. Reach out to other people who are in your same position and who can share and understand your highs and lows.
Consult a professional. If you continue to feel overwhelmed by chronic pain at a level that keeps you from performing your daily routine, you may want to talk with a mental health professional, such as a psychologist, who can help you handle the physical and psychological repercussions of your condition.
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