I drafted this pinch on my phone one evening. I’ve left the first half as I wrote it in the moment.
Pain in the moment
It is 6.20pm on a Tuesday evening and I’m struggling.
My pain has flared up over the last week. I’m stuck in a loop where I’m sore so I’m not sleeping well, but not sleeping well makes the pain worse, which means I’m sore so I’m not sleeping… aargh sums up the frustration.
I’m in bed already. I’m trying to focus on a thought which was key to a shift in how I managed my pain.
At the Pain Management Programme, I was introduced to this thought: it is not my job to deal with any future pain, it is only my job to deal with the pain in this moment.
I used to panic when I felt this level of pain. I would spiral into thinking: how am I going to cope if this never eases? How will I have any life? How will I work?
All that worry took a lot of energy. It certainly didn’t help me manage the pain!
Dealing with the pain in this moment is a type of mindfulness.
“Mindfulness” doesn’t only refer to one thing. There are lot of aspects to mindfulness and many ways to be mindful. People practice mindfulness for many reasons. One reason is to help manage pain.
Researchers measure whether mindfulness practice is effective for pain management by asking about changes in pain or other quality of life factors. In some studies, some types of mindfulness seem to improve some measured outcomes1,2. There’s still a lot we don’t understand about mindfulness and pain management.
As with all strategies for pain management, it is about finding what works for you. If mindfulness doesn’t work for you, don’t do it. If some parts work for you, just do those.
Being aware of my pain and trying to let it, and the emotions and thoughts that accompany it, go by without judgement, is really not for me! I tried for a few months but I find this type of practice makes me more distressed.
Focussing on my breathing helps me to lose some of the tension associated with my pain.
Reminding myself that I am here in this moment and I only need to manage the pain is this moment, not in a minute, or in an hour, a day, a week, a month or a year helps a lot.
So, I’m here dealing with the pain only in this moment.
1. Minding mindfulness – what is going on? https://relief.news/mindfulness-breathing-pain-and-fibromyalgia/
2. Does mindfulness improve outcomes in chronic pain patients? https://relief.news/pain-mindfulness/
If you’re interested in learning more about mindfulness practice/meditation for self-management of pain, this page is a great place to start.
3 thoughts on “Thoughts (2)”
This resonated with me a lot. Those loops and pain cycles are something I live with constantly. It’s always a feature. It feels like cycles within cycles.
The cycles are daily and within a day they cycle weekly and get worse within a monthly loop. Where they intersect with lower troughs I get a touch a reprieve.
I find mindfulness helpful when I have the energy and mental strength for it. Demanding job, parenting, pain can all be too hard sometimes and I can’t overcome my fatigue to do mindfulness.
The easy way out for me is painkillers. Definitely not an ideal long term solution but I need them just to get through.
Thanks for the post! It really is a great reminder for me to practice my mindfulness during the troughs.
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Thanks for sharing your experiences Pete! Pain management is a full time job on its own isn’t it.
I find that there’s not one thing alone that helps me but a combo. The best combo seems to change often, damn tricksy pain. I still take pain medication but not as much as I used to.
I’d love to chat about your mindfulness at some point, and hear what aspects help you. Next time I visit 😊
Hmmm, maybe it would make a good pinch to list all the things I do/have tried at various points. Thinking as I write here…
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