Why Everyone With Chronic Pain Should Meditate
Some real talk about who I am as a person: I am moody, easily irritated, and sometimes difficult to please. I’ve noticed since I started experiencing chronic pain, chronic fatigue, seizures, and everything else that comes along with an autoimmune disorder, my emotional regulation has gone completely bonkers. And, that’s totally normal - people who experience chronic pain are two times more likely to suffer with a mental disorder such as anxiety or depression!
I truly believe that it’s incredibly important to let yourself fully feel your emotions and deal with them. But in order to do that, I’ve found that you need to first be able to sit with yourself, recognize your emotions and thoughts to identify the root of what your feeling and why. This is where meditation comes in. There is so much research done on the benefits of meditation, but it can all seem very woo-woo unless you experience it first hand.
After a few weeks (or months) of putting it off, I finally started meditating! And, it has been an amazing journey. I eased myself into it, but I’ve since built up to meditating for 15-20 minutes at least once a day and I’ve noticed a huge change in my anxiety, my reactionary responses, and my overall ability to cope and focus throughout the day
These are the primary benefits I’ve noticed after just 7 months:
Coping with Anger Reactions: I don’t have a short temper, but when I lose it everyone should take cover. Part of this reaction is that I have a tendency to just let things go without dealing them, then it all gets too much for me and I lose it. For example, this past week I got so angry at work that for a moment I only saw red and I needed to excuse myself from a meeting. It’s totally fine to feel angry sometimes! But, it’s not okay to react in a mean or childish way. So, I try to immediately bring my meditation techniques to the forefront of my mind when I get angry so that I can work through my anger rather than letting it out on someone else. Honestly, this is something that I think I’ll always need to work on, but it’s also an area I’ve seen the biggest change in.
Fewer Panic Attacks: I deal with pretty bad anxiety that I take medication for. These days I primarily get anxious when I’m waiting for Carlos to come home from work. I used to get so anxious that it would become a panic attack I would just end up in tears in the shower because I wasn’t sure what I was feeling or how to deal with it. I still get anxious at night but I feel like it isn’t controlling me as much as it used to. When I feel anxious at night time I’ll purposefully do a meditation and instantly feel a little better, preventing me from going to a full blown panic attack.
Better Pain Management: Chronic pain is one of the biggest triggers for me in terms of an emotional outburst. If I’m in severe pain and I’m triggered in even the slightest way I will almost 100% of the time have some sort of dramatic emotional response, whether it be hysterically laughing or full on rage. I am still sensitive when I am in pain, but my responses are not nearly as drastic. I may be more irritable, but I have the tools to be able to deal with it and recognize that because I’m in pain I have an acute emotional response. The main thing is that I can recognize that I am more sensitive and prepare and react accordingly.