“With spiritual balance…you are able to deal with whatever life brings you and know you are okay. You are able to find meaning and purpose even in situations that are painful and not to your liking.”— Pain Recovery: How to Find Balance and Reduce Suffering from Chronic Pain, adapted by LVRC8,9.
Pain is an important part of life.
Pain helps us grow into better people- if we allow it.
This article is basically about why it is absolutely essential to let your body (and soul) heal itself.
Instead of treating the symptoms, we are much better off treating the actual cause of our issues whether that be physical pain, marital problems, crazy kids, or just plain exhaustion. There are answers for you. If you have specific topics and issues that you would like to talk about or touch on, please leave me a comment at the bottom of this article.
I am so excited to be here with you right now!
Part One: Your Relationship with Your Health and Your Healer
Part Two: Pain Means Problem
Part Three: 3 Important Aspects of Your Health
Part Four: Pain. Healing. Research.
Part Five: Mindfulness in Choosing Your Tools
Part One: Your Relationship with Your Health and Your Healer
The manner in which doctor sees patient is… well, peculiar. They might just meet people at their absolute worst. Hunched over in pain, emotionally unable to make eye-contact, crying through a smile, chaotic sentences… all-around nutcase, worst.
This is just what healers deal with. That is what they do. Over a few visits, your doctor may start to see that “real-life” creep back in; your transition back to the real world. You. Becoming more comfortable and feeling oh-so grateful. Because, let’s face it, we all need help from time to time.
An empathetic healer will be able to look at the uniqueness of your progress and see (roundabout) just what journey you are on. It is amazing. On both sides I see astonishing beauty.
Having an “in-and-out” type of healer is just plain not my style. I do not want to hand my life and soul over to someone who is cold and foreign to me. I need a real relationship with the person I trust with my life (well-being, journey, happiness, strength, knowledge, etc.). As a healer, I crave that relationship with my client, as well. I want to know the person I am helping and see their journey unravel. It is nothing short of magnificence in my eyes.
Heck, I would love little more than to meet your family. I am too uncomfortable with treating people who completely hide their healing from their family. At that point there is a fresh wound being created just to stitch up the old one…
I am not a huge “modern medicine” supporter. I am certainly not shy about that. When I talk about my doctor, I am usually talking about my chiropractor. Like my dad, the best chiro and most concerned healer that I personally know. No joke.
My whole point here is to find someone that you connect with. Someone you feel comfortable around and won’t hesitate to call for advice or help. If you have an actual medical issue, yes, you should certainly seek the corresponding professional help. I recommend that you do the research and find yourself a “family practitioner” before you even need that aforementioned help. When you do that groundwork first, you don’t have to worry yourself with finding someone to turn to- in mid turn. I have been down that road and would never want to go through that again.
Professionals aren’t the only way to find healing in your life. Anyone in your life could be a “healer”. Make sure to spend plenty of time with people who make you feel good to be alive- even when you are just sitting together in silence. These people are gifts from the universe. They know just what to say to help you gain perspective. We all need at least one person like this on our side.
Part Two: Pain Means Problem
“I just need to take the edge off”. I can relate to this… deeply. Especially when it comes to stress.
I used to take painkillers every day. I was a teenager with daily headaches and eventually started to feel a bit of dependence to the energy boost and emotional muffle that came with Excedrin.
Something I have learned during my short time on this earth is that there is always a reason for your pain (physically and emotionally). Simply masking it does not do much good for you. Sure, it can help you get through the pain a bit easier. Which I can totally respect- to an extent.
Let me make an analogy.
Imagine. You are a sculptor. Your tools need to have the right edge… yeah? If you pick tools without the right edge, your finished product does not come out as you pictured- even if that tool has a more comfortable grip. As hard as you may try; focused and talented as you may be, you just cannot get that sculpture right. Heck, you might even cut yourself up and down on that dull edge before the process is complete.
The faceless masses will not look at your sculpture and say “aw, too bad, someone did not provide them with the right tools for the job”. (Watch out for using an excuse as a tool; that is like using a stick as a knife). They will never see your focus, they will never see your dedication or how hard you work. They will never see the ‘real you’ inside of that sculpture because you did not pick the right tool.
You may never fully realize yourself without experiencing the full beauty of your creation; the entire process of creating your sculpture is a form of growth and learning; concerning you and your relationship with this world. Blisters and all.
Hold onto this analogy, we will be coming back to it in part five.
Really though, anything negative you feel- physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually- is a sign of a larger issue. The best thing you can do is recognize the origin of this pain and heal it. Generally speaking, if we simply mask the symptom and ignore it, the problem inevitably worsens.
Part Three: 3 Important Aspects of Your Health
“Healing severe or chronic pain, I believe, includes transforming our relationship to the pain, and, ultimately, it is about transforming our relationship to who we are and to life.”—Sarah Anne Shockley8
There are so many aspects of health. Right now, we are just going to focus on 3 main parts of your overall health. Physical health, emotional health, and mental health. These 3 things are pretty well tied together, constantly impacting one another.
The very last article I wrote for Advanced Chiropractic was called 13 Reasons Your Health Relies on Your Active Lifestyle. In this article you will find plenty of information regarding the importance of staying on top of your physical health. It actually mentions how your physical health impacts both your mental and emotional health.10,11,13,14 Living a physically active lifestyle also happens to raise your overall quality of life- and the length of it!10,11
Mental health has to do with the way you take in information. It controls the processing of information, new and old. Your mental health is in charge of your understanding and retention of information.15 It is like a filter; if this processor is broken, the end result is going to come out…a bit…iffy.
Apparently, Oxford University psychiatrists found that serious mental illness shortens your life at least as much as heavy smoking. It takes 10-20 years from you.12 *Keep this in mind the next time you decide to spread yourself too thin. It is very important to take care of yourself- in every aspect.
Emotional health deals with our behavior (thoughts, feelings, socialization).
While emotional health and mental health can oftentimes be mixed up, they are not one in the same. These two aspects of your health do come hand in hand. Simply, I like to think of mental health as how we absorb life and emotional health being how we live life. We need them both to be balanced properly- or we experience instability in our overall health and function.15
When you keep your emotional health in good condition, you will actually see improvements in your mental health (and vice versa)!16 Your emotions have a direct impact on your physical health. If you experience chronic emotional problems, you will likely have issues with chronic physical pain, too.17
Basically, the moral of this story is that each one of these three aspects holds serious influence on the other two.
Part Four: Pain. Healing. Research.
There is a whole lot of information out there. So much… This entry is already huge, so we are only going to touch on a few things. Ready? OK!
Your Mental and Emotional States Impact Your Physical Pain
I am in love with this table right now. The table comes from an article that I almost didn’t continue reading after the first section- I am so glad that I stayed. This beautiful, dully-written piece ends up going into detail about how your mental and emotional functionality are in direct correlation with the pain that you feel, physically.20
The attention given to your pain induces emotional response. These emotional responses, in turn, can actually shape the intensity, outcome, and length of your painful condition.20 If you concentrate on the pain, it gets worse, sticks around longer, and might even come back more often- possibly leading to a progressed or entirely new condition altogether. If you are consistently optimistic, your emotionality about your pain can only help your condition and your healing.20
Keep in mind that having let down hopes about recovery can slow your recuperation further.20 There is certainly a healthy balance between getting your hopes up and never picking them up.
Basically, what I am getting at here is to control the way you interpret your pain and be mindful of the way it makes you feel. This is the most natural way to manage your general pain and get yourself on a faster route to recovery.
Effects of Acetaminophen on Your Emotions
There are many reasons that I do not take these pain meds. Some of them have to do with the physical effects- they aren’t good for you. I wrote a bit on that when I touched on managing headaches naturally.
Even when it comes to an “every now and then” situation, I still opt out unless my pain is so terrible that I am completely unable to work or sleep through it. Which, thankfully, is not an issue for me often.
I mentioned earlier about the changes to my mindset whenever I would take too much Excedrin. The emotional changes that happen when taking acetaminophen go much deeper than the reflection of my personal experiences.
Check it out.
Acetaminophen has been found to significantly reduce emotional response to both “good” and “bad” emotions- and by a large chunk, too.2,3 Other studies show how this non-steroidal anti-inflammatory stunt your hurt feelings in social rejection situations, making it harder to grow and develop psychologically.2,4 This over-the-counter drug also seriously dulls the natural discomfort in making a hard decision.2,5
Empathy is a big one, too. Taking acetaminophen significantly reduces the effect of seeing other people in pain.7 People even feel less negative about the idea of their own death after taking this painkiller.2,6 Now, while I am not a therapist, this is starting to remind me of my own past issues with poor mental and emotional health. We need to feel these things to grow and learn- we seriously need our psychological aspects to be functioning properly in order to heal from things properly.
Yoga and Tai Chi on Psychological Well-Being
Emotional and mental pain can certainly seem debilitating.
Ideally, we want to nip this in the bud before we end up spiraling into other conditions like anxiety, depression, or an overall inability to function. Who really experiences the “ideal” way in much of anything, the first time around? Sometimes us humans need to learn a lesson a few times before we decide on a better way.
I recently took my morning yoga routine back up. I will not tell you how long it had been since I have practiced (way too long). Intentions and actions are two entirely different things.
Take it from Yoda.
“Do… or do not. There is no try.” – Yoda
Yoga is great for getting yourself into awesome psychological wellness! There was a study done evaluating the effect that yoga had on inner-city kids at an alternative school and it had great results- even better than regular exercise!22 They had an improvement to their overall function, they were less anxious and depressed, along with being significantly less hostile.22 I’d say that is a win for everyone.
Tai Chi intrigues me- it always has. I have yet to actually experience it. I can say that there is a lot of information on a person’s psychological benefits (and more). It helps to balance so many aspects in your life. Is your mood unstable? Tai Chi! Low self-esteem? Tai Chi! Experiencing one or all of stress, anxiety, or depression? Tai Chi can really assist you in getting your healthy life balance back. These effects start taking place the very first time you practice, too!21
As a side note, these two soft arts both help ease physical pain and aid with sleep, as well!23,24,25
There are so many great ways to manage your pain whether it be physical, emotional, mental, or otherwise. When I am in pain, I usually reach for something that will ease the pain naturally while helping to fix the problem. Some of my personal go-to’s (interchangeable with any type of pain I can think of) include:
- Visiting my chiropractor
- My favorite cold brewed medicinal herbal teas
- Meditation and yoga
- Playtime with my son
- Rest (depending)
- Dancing and singing
- Mindful posture and breathing
- Energy work- or energy healing
Part Five: Mindfulness in Choosing Your Tools
Now, let us get back to our analogy in part two. How would the process of shaping yourself actually differ from the sculptor situation? Maybe selecting these tools is… a bit more complicated. That’s OK. There is more to you than a single block of wood or ice.
Do the tools that you use to shape your life, your faith, your coping mechanisms fall in line with your personal growth, or do they help numb you and keep you below the threshold of your personal greatness?
When you are feeling stressed how do you cope? Do you turn to alcohol, anger, or addiction? Maybe you find your peace in sports, meditation, or maybe even crafting?
What do you do when you are in pain? Do you self-medicate and wait for change- or do you seek out the underlying issue and a real recovery while finding peace inside of the little tasks throughout your day?
Remember, your pain (physical or mental) is with you for good reason. Embrace it. Heal it.
I did some research into the emotional changes that happen when taking NSAIDs for the first time, just the other day.
This whole topic was brought about by a conversation I had with my husband. It was a rough lady-cramping morning for me. My wonderful, concerned husband was offering me some pills, he told me what was in Midol and said that we basically have the right combination of pills for Midol, here at home.
I politely refused, saying that using these types of painkillers stumps growth and reflection. If I am cramping, I have something to learn from it. Whether it be that I need to learn healthy coping strategies- or more simply, maybe I just need to remember this pain so I start living a healthier lifestyle.
As a side note, I would like to mention my early pubescent years… my cramping pain was off the charts. My black-out-while-walking period pain as a 12-year-old way outweighed my pain during labor 11 years later. Or any other pain I have felt. (PSA: keep your kids away from soy. This happened to me because soy is packed full of basically estrogen and can really mess up a person’s hormones.)
Pain is here to tell you that there is a problem. If I just snap my fingers to make that pain go away, how can I expect to actually have the motivation- or the memory, for that matter- to fix my problem?
Knowing me, I won’t. I need the memory jog…… I do. I need to remember where my decisions took me.
Somewhere along the line, maybe even every little part of the line, I made a poor decision… and it lead me to this pain I hold, today.
There certainly are parts of life that are “out of our control”. The important thing to focus on during these times is mindfulness.
Are you paying attention to your habits- and intentionally forming positive ones?
Do you know why you feel the way you do?
Have you reached out for help from the right sources?
What do you do to take care of yourself and prevent your issues?
Are you listening? Listening to your body, your intuition, or the people around you?
Be kind with yourself. Be stern with yourself. Let in the growth and healing.
Let us keep in mind the main idea of this entry before I send you off to choose your tools. If we are experiencing one type of pain, it is best that we make sure to treat- or take care- of all aspects of our health. These aspects are so tightly woven together that a little neglect can go a long way- especially in the process of healing.
If you are treating your physical pain with something that hurts you psychologically- are you really treating anything? Now, you have the research and information at your fingertips that show you that your psychological health directly impacts your physical health. **(and vice versa!)**
I have mentioned several ways to cope with your pain while simultaneously caring for more aspects of your health. If you have any questions about this, do not hesitate to ask!
I had a super great time putting this information together (and it took WAY longer to post than I had intended)! I really hope that you take something away from this and I would just absolutely love to hear from you. Please, feel free to let us all know what type of tools work for you in your life! Also, if you have any stories, questions, tid-bits to add, or anything– put in your comment here at the end of this post.
I cannot wait to hear from you!!
Thank you so much for being a part of my first ever YES-I-picked-this-topic-by-myself-with-my-big-britches-on Journal Entry!
- Oaklander, Mandy. “Tylenol and Acetaminophen: Can Painkillers Ease Emotional Pain?” Time, Time, 17 Apr. 2015, time.com/3825042/tylenol-emotion-acetaminophen/.
- Durso, Geoffrey R. O., et al. “Over-the-Counter Relief From Pains and Pleasures Alike.” Psychological Science, vol. 26, no. 6, Oct. 2015, pp. 750–758., doi:10.1177/0956797615570366.
- Dewall, C. Nathan, et al. “Acetaminophen Reduces Social Pain.” Psychological Science, vol. 21, no. 7, 14 June 2010, pp. 931–937., doi:10.1177/0956797610374741.
- Dewall, C. Nathan, et al. “Can Acetaminophen Reduce the Pain of Decision-Making?” Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, vol. 56, Jan. 2015, pp. 117–120., doi:10.1016/j.jesp.2014.09.006.
- Randles, Daniel, et al. “The Common Pain of Surrealism and Death.” Psychological Science, vol. 24, no. 6, Nov. 2013, pp. 966–973., doi:10.1177/0956797612464786.
- Mischkowski, Dominik, et al. “From Painkiller to Empathy Killer: Acetaminophen (Paracetamol) Reduces Empathy for Pain.” Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, vol. 11, no. 9, 5 Sept. 2016, pp. 1345–1353., doi:10.1093/scan/nsw057.
- “28 Inspirational Chronic Pain Quotes To Help You Cope.” Las Vegas Recovery Center, 28 Apr. 2017, lasvegasrecovery.com/chronic-pain-quotes/.
- Hunter, Robert, et al. Pain Recovery: How to Find Balance and Reduce Suffering from Chronic Pain. Central Recovery Press, LLC, 2009.
- Garcia, Kali S. “13 Reasons Your Health Relies on Your Active Lifestyle.” MamaTea Social, 19 Aug. 2018, mamateasocial.com/13-reasons-your-health-relies-on-your-active-lifestyle/.
- Garcia, Kali S. “13 Reasons Your Health Relies on Your Active Lifestyle.” Advanced Chiropractic Associates, PLLC, 13 Aug. 2018, www.knoxchiropractic.com/blog/63772-13-reasons-your-health-relies-on-your-active-lifestyle.
- Horton, Lucie. “4 Ways Our Physical Health Could Be Impacted by Our Mental Health.” MQ: Transforming Mental Health, 22 May 2017, www.mqmentalhealth.org/posts/4-ways-our-physical-health-could-be-impacted-by-our-mental-health.
- “Connection Between Mental and Physical Health.” CMHA Ontario, ontario.cmha.ca/documents/connection-between-mental-and-physical-health/.
- “What’s the Relationship between Physical and Emotional Health?” Ocean State Psychology, www.ocean-state-psychology.com/stress-health.html.
- “Mental Health vs. Emotional Health…Are They Related?” Pasadena Villa, 26 Feb. 2018, www.pasadenavilla.com/2018/02/26/mental-health-vs-emotional-healthare-they-related/.
- Haisman-Smith, Nick. “What Is Emotional Health And How Does It Relate To Mental Illness?” HuffPost UK, HuffPost UK, 11 May 2017, www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/nick-haismansmith/what-is-emotional-health-_b_16528782.html?guccounter=1&guce_referrer_us=aHR0cHM6Ly93d3cuZ29vZ2xlLmNvbS8&guce_referrer_cs=JXBmgj3lX_kARG75aXhXoQ.
- Vann, Madeline R. “Connecting the Dots Between Physical and Emotional Health.” Everyday Health, Everyday Health, 14 Nov. 2017, www.everydayhealth.com/emotional-health/connecting-dots.aspx.
- Koshuta, John. “What Is Physical Health? – Definition, Components & Examples.” Study.com, Study.com, study.com/academy/lesson/what-is-physical-health-definition-components-examples.html. **Online Course**
- Table One
- Linton, Steven J., and William S. Shaw. “Impact of Psychological Factors in the Experience of Pain.” Physical Therapy, vol. 91, no. 5, 1 May 2011, pp. 700–711., doi:10.2522/ptj.20100330.
- Wang, Chenchen, et al. “Tai Chi on Psychological Well-Being: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.” BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, vol. 10, no. 1, 21 May 2010, doi:10.1186/1472-6882-10-23.
- Frank, Jennifer L., et al. “Effectiveness of a School-Based Yoga Program on Adolescent Mental Health, Stress Coping Strategies, and Attitudes Toward Violence: Findings From a High-Risk Sample.” Journal of Applied School Psychology, vol. 30, no. 1, 2 Feb. 2014, pp. 29–49., doi:10.1080/15377903.2013.863259.
- “Tai Chi and Chronic Pain.” Harvard Health Blog, Apr. 2015, www.health.harvard.edu/alternative-and-complementary-medicine/tai-chi-and-chronic-pain.
- “Yoga for Pain Relief.” Harvard Health Blog, Apr. 2015, www.health.harvard.edu/alternative-and-complementary-medicine/yoga-for-pain-relief.
- “The Connection Between Yoga and Better Sleep.” National Sleep Foundation, sleepfoundation.org/sleep-topics/the-connection-between-yoga-and-better-sleep.