Up until a few years ago, I was the type of person more inclined to appreciate the sound of my own whining and complaining. It felt good, and I certainly didn’t want everyone to think my life was going great. After all, if that was the case, they’d expect me to be upbeat and optimistic all the time, and that is so much work, right?
However, as I developed a more spiritual sense of self, I fell into the understanding of how our complex minds really do have so much potential, especially in areas of positive thinking. I began to read about ways to think and grow rich, think myself thin, think myself into a new reality, etc., and while some of that may sound like false prophecy, I do believe there is some inherent value to the power of a positive mindset, particularly in matters of physical health.
If our minds are such powerful entities--and supposedly we only use a tenth of our brain’s full potential--then who’s to argue that the gray mass taking up space inside the shells of our heads cannot trump a pain pill or two when it comes to alleviating physical discomfort? So, I put it to the test one day last week.
I was feeling severely under the weather last Friday, and no matter what I did from a pharmaceutical standpoint throughout the day, nothing seemed to make me feel better. Therefore, I did what any normal person would do in the mid-afternoon work day: I lay flat on the floor with my eyes closed. Thankfully, I work from home, so there was no one around to object but the two dogs, and they were asleep anyway.
As I rested my eyes and relaxed my body, I imagined myself in a peaceful place. In my mind’s eye, I envisioned whatever it was that was making me feel poorly leaving my body and blowing away. I began to think positive thoughts. “I feel great.” “Today is a great day.” “There is nothing I cannot accomplish today because I feel spectacular.” Pause. Nothing was happening. “I am now positive this is not working.” How’s that for positive thought?
All joking aside, I did focus on the task at hand and within 20 minutes or so, I really did begin to feel better. I kept reminding myself that, yes, I did feel great, and that I was going to continue to feel great. Instead of focusing on how bad I thought I felt, I opted to concentrate on how good I could feel. It really did help!
If you continually feel weighed down by chronic arthritis pain, one of the best ways to fuel that positive mindset is to surround yourself with like-minded individuals. Ask them about their positive approach to life and how it works for them. When someone asks how you are feeling, resist the urge to dive right in to how poorly you feel, but talk about how great you feel. As you continue to focus on how great you feel, even if you don’t at first, you will soon find that you actually do feel better. Optimism is contagious!
Upon awakening each day, tell yourself that you feel great. Say it out loud even, up to five or six times. The lasting effects this will have upon you will amaze you. Don’t confuse your mindset with a statement such as, “I won’t have any pain today,” as simply clouding your thoughts with the word “pain” will lead you to believe that pain may come into the equation. Who knows? You may even forget that you have arthritis!
At bedtime, say to yourself that you are going to enjoy a very peaceful and restful night and that tomorrow will be an absolutely great day for you.
Other simple things to do to fuel that positive attitude include employing your sense of humor. Find the fun in all that you do, even if it means poking fun at your own personal foibles on occasion. Eat a well-balanced diet. Get some exercise. Even a 20-minute walk in the middle of the day will improve your outlook.
Negative habits to avoid include spending an appreciable amount of time in bed outside of sleep because of your pain. That just continues to place the focus on the pain and not on something outside of it. Develop a new hobby to take your mind off of your discomfort.
Have you found yourself turning to alcohol to ease your arthritis pain? That is a habit you will quickly want to change. Even though you may think it eases your discomfort, it is only temporary, and, again, the focus is on the negative.
Watch what you say to others as well. As stated earlier, don’t emphasize how poorly you feel. That will just serve to exacerbate your feelings. It may be a challenge initially, but strive for positive talk, positive thoughts, and positive things to do. The results may positively amaze you!
Of course, it is still important that you follow the treatment plan prescribed by your doctor and that you continue to take your medications as directed.
(Information for this article was found at http://www.arthritis.org/arthritis-pain-management-tips.php and at http://www.get-arthritis-pain-relief.com/positive-thinking2.html)
Reviewed May 19, 2011
Edited by Alison Stanton