Pain is hard on your body and your mind. It can limit the things you can do in daily life, which might make you angry, annoyed, anxious, or depressed. To treat pain, you may need to work not only on your physical health, but also on your mental health. Even though pain isn’t just “in your head,” most people find that using their minds to manage pain is key to getting better.
The first step to honing your mental skills is to be aware of the tie between emotions and pain. Just like pain has an effect on how you think, how you think has an effect on your pain. For one, when you expect something to hurt, it often hurts you more. You might also feel more intense pain when you are already upset.
Fear is one emotion that can have a strong effect on pain. If you feel pain when you move a certain way, you might fear that you are doing harm. Then, you can become more fearful of moving, which can cause you more pain. Soon enough, you’re afraid to move at all, even if it would be good for you!
If there’s one thing about the mind-body link that can help you recover, it’s learning to split “hurt” from “harm.” Feeling a little pain when you move doesn’t mean that you’re doing harm to yourself. Once you realize this, you can keep pushing forward with your recovery. The more you keep yourself on track, the less pain you should have… and the more relief you’ll feel that you’re getting back out there.