Anything but the pain!

Chronic Fatigue, Fibromyalgia, Pain Management

How are you, Stacey?” 

“How’s the pain?” 

“Any better today?” 

“Any progress with your diagnosis?” 

Ah, good old pain talk. When you’re first diagnosed with a chronic pain condition, every conversation tends to sound like the ones above. Your pain not only becomes the focus of your attention, but everyone else’s too.

And while we 100% appreciate the concern and recognise that it comes with genuine caring intentions, it’s not always massively helpful when you’re trying your best to focus on anything but the pain!

Pain has a tendency to become all-consuming. It impacts every part of your daily life and infiltrates your every waking thought, whether you like it or not. So when it begins to creep into conversations with family and friends as well, it can all start to feel a bit overwhelming.

In fact, if you’re looking into pain talk in terms of science, there is evidence that constantly focusing on and talking about your pain can make your physical symptoms worse.

Here’s how:

Your Pain and the Brain

Your brain is constantly on the lookout for issues. If it even so much as suspects that something might be wrong, it’s firing pain signals at your nerves to alert you to the problem. With chronic pain, these signals get stuck in a bit of a loop and fire off whether they’re needed or not, creating pain that is far more consistent than normal.

If all your attention is focused on those signals, the pain becomes all the more noticeable.

Studies have found, however, that if attention is focused on something else, pain patients perceive their level of pain to be lower. Hence why talking and thinking about pain all the time can make it feel so much worse.

So, how can we keep the pain talk to a minimum?

Silencing Pain Talk to Improve Symptoms

Now, I’m not suggesting you stop talking about your pain altogether, but give this a go instead:

  1. Educate Friends and Family Let your friends and family know that while you very much appreciate their concern, you’re still the person you were before chronic pain. Tell them it’s okay to engage in conversation that has nothing to do with your condition at all.
  2. Find New Passions If your friends and family have to learn to talk about pain less, so do you! Find some positive activities that you love to focus your attention on. When our minds are occupied by something we’re enjoying, pain tends to fade to background noise.
  3. Positive Self-Talk The same concept applies to your own thoughts as it does to talking about pain out loud. Make the effort to train your thoughts to focus on the positives of your pain rather than catastrophising what you’re feeling. For example, if you’re having a bad day, remind yourself that you also have better days and one will come along shortly.

Pain talk is all well and good until it becomes the only thing you’re talking or thinking about. Allow your attention and conversations to be pulled in other directions to help your pain fade into the background.

If you’d like some more support in managing your chronic pain, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

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