Mindfulness Meditation for Chronic Pain

Pain Awareness Month in September is a month dedicated to raising awareness about the silent and often misunderstood epidemic of chronic pain.

My ideas about this subject are shaped by my own experience with chronic pain. I am often asked ‘what do you find  helps with pain’? However, I  don’t have  a simple answer. Anyone who has read  my series of blog posts, following my stroke, and emergence of  central pain syndrome, will discover along the way I’ve tried so many things, from physio, acupuncture, massage, saunas to mindfulness and meditation. I have  been seduced into trying lotions, potions, and gadgets. After  several years I’ve learned that it takes time to come to terms with chronic pain, to accept just how difficult it is to treat, and that there are no ‘quick fixes’.

Barriers to self-management of chronic pain in primary care: a qualitative focus group study
Katy GordonHelen RiceNick AllcockPamela BellMartin DunbarSteve GilbertHeather Wallace

A variety of tools are beneficial for managing chronic pain

Chronic pain is a common disabling illness that does not completely respond to current medical treatments. A variety of tools are beneficial for managing it. For example, the practice of mindfulness meditation. There is growing evidence  that mindfulness practice produces real changes in the brain , and may lead to changes in pain tolerance and pain intensity ratings.

Ball EF, Nur Shafina Muhammad Sharizan E, Franklin G, Rogozi?ska E. Does mindfulness meditation improve chronic pain? A systematic review. Curr Opin Obstet Gynecol. 2017 Dec;29(6):359-366. doi: 10.1097/GCO.0000000000000417. PMID: 28961631.

What is  mindfulness?

It’s a mental practice that involves paying focused and non-judgmental attention to the present moment. In other words being fully aware of your thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and the environment without trying to change or judge them. Mindfulness encourages acceptance of the present moment as it is and can be cultivated through meditation, breathing exercises, or simply by consciously being present in everyday activities. Research has shown that mindfulness is a simple but powerful way to enhance several cognitive functions. It can improve attention, relieve pain and reduce stress.

Below is video that provides a more detailed explanation of  mindfulness meditation for  chronic pain from Stanford Medicine.

Healthy Aging Month

Healthy Aging  Month observed in September, offers a month-long opportunity to raise awareness about the importance of proactively preserving and enhancing physical, mental, and emotional health as individuals advance in age. It underscores the idea that aging doesn’t have to be synonymous with a decline in health or quality of life and encourages people to explore ways to lead healthier and more fulfilling lives as they grow older.

Healthy living is a fundamental component of healthy aging, and adopting and sustaining health-promoting practices throughout one’s life can significantly enhance resilience and create opportunities for a thriving, fulfilling journey through all stages of life, from infancy to older adulthood.

By making choices that prioritize health and well-being at every age, individuals can:

  1. Build a Strong Foundation: Starting with a focus on health in infancy and childhood sets the stage for a lifetime of well-being. Proper nutrition, regular exercise, and early healthcare can establish a strong foundation for healthy aging.
  2. Promote Longevity: Healthy living practices, such as maintaining a balanced diet, engaging in regular physical activity, and avoiding harmful habits like smoking, can contribute to a longer and more vital life.
  3. Enhance Quality of Life: As individuals move through adolescence and adulthood, healthy choices continue to be crucial. Staying active, managing stress, and fostering positive relationships all contribute to an improved quality of life.
  4. Mitigate Age-Related Challenges: Healthy aging practices in middle and older adulthood can help mitigate common age-related challenges. These include maintaining cognitive function, preventing chronic diseases, and preserving mobility and independence.
  5. Adaptability and Resilience: Adopting healthy habits throughout life enhances one’s ability to adapt to life’s changes and challenges, making it easier to navigate the transitions and uncertainties that come with aging.
  6. Continued Engagement: Staying mentally, socially, and emotionally engaged in later life can promote a sense of purpose and fulfillment. Pursuing lifelong learning, maintaining social connections, and pursuing hobbies and passions contribute to thriving in older adulthood.

Healthy aging practices aren’t limited to a specific age group but are relevant and beneficial throughout the entire lifespan. They provide a framework for building resilience and creating opportunities for a fulfilling and thriving life, regardless of one’s age. By investing in health and well-being at every stage, individuals can optimize their chances for a vibrant and satisfying aging experience.

senior adults looking happy thumbs up

Image: istockphoto

Eldercare concerns

September is Pain Awareness Month

Shedding light on the silent suffering

September is a month that signifies the end of summer, the beginning of fall, and for many, the return to routines and responsibilities. However, September also holds another important role—it’s Pain Awareness Month. This dedicated month seeks to raise awareness about the silent and often misunderstood epidemic of chronic pain.

Graphic, pain isn't always black or white

Understanding Chronic Pain

Chronic pain is not just a physical sensation; it’s a life-altering experience that affects millions of people worldwide. It is typically defined as pain that persists for at least 12 weeks, beyond the expected time for healing. Chronic pain can result from various underlying conditions, including arthritis, fibromyalgia, neuropathy, and many others. It doesn’t discriminate by age, gender, or background and can strike anyone at any time.

Chronic pain affects more Americans  adults than heart disease,cancer and diabetes combined ~ Stanford Institute of  Medicine

Chronic Pain is Like a Car With Four Flat Tires

One of the greatest challenges with chronic pain is its invisibility. Unlike a visible injury or illness, chronic pain is often hidden beneath the surface, leaving those who suffer from it feeling isolated and misunderstood. This can lead to feelings of depression, anxiety, and a sense of hopelessness. Friends, family members, and even healthcare providers may not fully grasp the extent of the suffering endured by those with chronic pain.

Pain Awareness Month is a vital initiative aimed at addressing the challenges of those who suffer with chronic pain. It serves several essential purposes:

  1. Education: It provides an opportunity to educate the public, healthcare providers, and policymakers about the complexities of chronic pain, its various causes, and the importance of effective pain management.
  2. Empowerment: By raising awareness, Pain Awareness Month empowers individuals living with chronic pain to seek help, connect with support networks, and advocate for their needs.
  3. Research and Advocacy: It supports research efforts to better understand and treat chronic pain and advocates for policies that improve access to pain management resources.

Living with pain

If you are living with chronic pain, or caring for a family member who is, listed below are  a  list of organizations, information and helpful resources.

Pain BC is a registered charity that is transforming the way chronic pain is understood and treated.

Making Sense of Pain Making is a self-management program designed for people with pain who experience marginalization and face barriers to accessing care.

American Chronic Pain Association  The mission of the ACPA is to facilitate peer support and education for individuals with chronic pain and their families so that these individuals may live more fully in spite of their pain, and to raise awareness among the health care community, policymakers, and the public at large about issues of living with chronic pain.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month

Mental health is an essential aspect of our overall well-being. Making mental health care and support a regular part of our lives is a valuable gift that we can give to both ourselves and future generations.

Mental health is as important as physical health

We may all require mental health assistance at various times during our lifetime.In the years since we established Tri- City Psychology Services, seeking help has become more normalised, however there still is a way to go.

Looking for Answers image

Getty Images

A significant obstacle preventing people from seeking mental health assistance is the social stigma surrounding mental illness. However, it is essential to remember that there is no shame in seeking out a compassionate and understanding listener. Often, simply having someone listen to our concerns and explore potential solutions can make all the difference in improving our mental health.

There are many things we can do to strengthen our mental health and improve our overall well-being. Here are some strategies to consider:

Practice self-care: Self-care involves taking care of your physical, emotional, and mental needs. This can include things like getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, engaging in regular exercise, and making time for activities you enjoy.

Build resilience: Resilience is the ability to recover from adverse change. By gaining some knowledge about how our minds work, we can improve our ability to handle our emotions in a healthy way, leading to increased resilience and overall well-being. Resilience isn’t about feeling good all the time. It’s also about learning to cope psychologically with the  bad things. It takes a toolbox of different things to be healthy  Seek out support from friends, family, or mental health professionals to help you navigate difficult times.

¹ Brief, daily meditation enhances attention, memory, mood, and emotional regulation in non-experienced meditators.

Practice mindfulness: Mindfulness involves being present in the moment and paying attention to your thoughts and feelings without judgment. You can practice mindfulness through activities like meditation¹ , deep breathing, or yoga. Why Should I  Meditate~ Sam Harris

Connect with others: Social support is essential for maintaining good mental health. Make time for social activities and reach out to friends and family for support when you need it.

Seek professional help: If you are struggling with mental health issues, don’t hesitate to seek help from a mental health professional. Therapy, medication, or a combination of both can be effective in treating mental health conditions like depression and anxiety.

Set realistic goals: Setting and achieving goals can help you feel a sense of accomplishment and purpose. However, it’s important to set goals that are realistic and achievable to avoid feelings of failure or disappointment.

² Research has also shown that the overuse of devices and social media can be linked to an increase in loneliness as well as depression in teens.

²Limit screen time: Excessive screen time can contribute to feelings of stress and anxiety. American Psychological Association Health Advisory on Social Media Use in Adolescence, Make sure to take breaks from electronic devices and spend time engaging in other activities.

Remember, taking care of your mental health is just as important as taking care of your physical health. By prioritizing self-care, building resilience, and seeking support when needed, you can strengthen your mental health and improve your overall well-being.

Do you have a query or problem that you would like to talk about, or are you curious to hear more about how we can help you?

Whatever you want achieve through therapy our caring team is ready to help.

Get in touch