Living with chronic pain can be difficult. Not only does it affect your physical ability, but is has a serious impact on your mental health as well.
During this time of uncertainty and isolation, it is more important than ever to focus on your mental health. Knowing how your mindset and mood can affect your chronic pain is crucial to maintaining your health and managing your pain while at home.
Isolation, Depression, and Chronic Pain
Thanks to technology, there are numerous ways to stay in touch with friends and family during quarantine, however it cannot replace basic human interaction. A recent study shows that people who are quarantined or in social isolation display anger, symptoms of PTSD, and depression. The lack of socialization, living with chronic pain, and not being able to get out and be active play a role in a person’s mental health.
Depression is one of the most common issues in people living with chronic pain. In fact, doctors have reports that almost half of all chronic pain patients show signs of depression. Despite that, depression in chronic pain patients frequently goes without a formal diagnosis. The pain symptoms overshadow those of depression. But sleep disturbances, loss of appetite, decreased energy, and low levels of activity lend themselves to increased pain levels.
People who have a longtime history of living with chronic pain are at a higher risk for experiencing mood swings and a change in their mental health during this time. The number of stressors has greatly increased – financial stability, fears of infection, inadequate information, and even boredom can have an impact.
Along with depression, anxiety is common in people living with chronic pain. If a person is already suffering from anxiety, the increased lack of control worsens anxiety. Oftentimes, chronic pain patients rely on their physicians to help them manage their pain and with clinics and doctor’s offices being closed for the time being, this can also have an effect on anxiety related to chronic pain.
How to Lift Your Mood And Manage Pain
People with chronic pain tend to shy away from exercise. However, getting up and moving increases your body’s endorphins which not only boosts your mood but helps your body regain muscle strength, flexibility, and can help reduce pain.
Although gyms and activity centers are closed, there is a variety of ways to stay active while at home:
- Housework – Doing basic tasks around the house will get your heart pumping and increase blood flow
- Knitting – Knitting and similar crafts strengthen hands which battles pain associated with arthritis while being a way to calm down and relax
- Walking – Going for a walk around the neighborhood is a great low impact exercise that encourages full body motion and helps increase blood flow and the release of endorphins
- Gardening – Working on your flower beds or vegetable gardens can not only boost your mood, but getting fresh air and using your arms and legs helps reduce pain and increase muscle strength
- At-Home Workouts – YouTube and other video platforms have a huge variety of exercise videos available for easy at-home exercise routines that can be performed in your living room.
Reduce Access to News and the Media
It is important to stay educated on current events and updates regarding the state of our Nation, however, watching too much news and reading news articles can be detrimental to your mental health.
Hearing constant updates and information about this pandemic can be upsetting. This kind of excessive stress can cause an increase in anxiety and depression, therefore worsening chronic pain.
Connect with Others for Support
We are fortunate to live in a world where there is no shortage of communication and technology to make that happen. Social media allows for families to stay connected and offers video chat features. Video call platforms allow families and friends to communicate virtually anywhere, anytime.
Setting aside time to chat with friends and family can make a huge difference in your mood, mindset, and your attitude towards social distancing and staying at home.