Never underestimate the power of your mind. Our days and lives are driven by our thoughts; our emotions can help or hurt us. We can be full of such happiness that we feel as though we are going to explode with excitement, or our thoughts can get the best of us and make it hard to push forward. When living with chronic pain and health issues, it is important to focus on mental strength just as much as physical strength.
At one point, my polycystic kidney pain was so severe, I was on a constant IV morphine drip. For the past three years I’ve battled through daily back pain. I don’t think we realize how bad certain pain is until personally living through it. My back pain has increased, even more than usual, over the past two months. Setbacks are frustrating and take extra mental strength to conquer.
In spite of my pain, I started Pilates last April and it has been a positive outlet. I go for one hour, twice a week. During this time I feel well, both physically and mentally. My body is able to move and gain strength in a safe environment, and I don’t feel limited like I do during my day-to-day life. Pilates takes concentration, which allows me to focus only on how my body is moving. I am not thinking about my pain, what I’ve been through or what the future may be like with my health issues.
My instructors have been a wonderful gift to my healing journey. They are supportive, encouraging and genuinely interested in helping me get stronger. Their support gives me hope. This week my instructor gave me a great tip. She told me to try not to think of my back pain when I exercise and instead imagine my back is light with no pressure on it. She also instructed me to focus on other parts of my body, with the hope of easing my pain and reducing concentration on my back. It was a really interesting tactic to try, which I will carry into my everyday life.
Our pain and health challenges are very real. We endure a great deal – both physically and mentally. This week reminded me that mind over matter can be helpful to us. We have a lot on our plates to think about and worry about. Sometimes we need to give our minds a rest to let our bodies rest.
“The body achieves what the mind believes.” – Jim Evans
How do you stay mentally strong?