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?
I so appreciate your strong mind and positive spirit in the face of chronic pain and health issues. When I’m with you, I’m so focused on your beautiful smile and twinkle in your eye that I forget to even ask you how you are feeling! You are a master at using your tools to not let the physical dampen your resilient spirit! Thank you for continuing to share and inspire us with your journey. We in the PKD community are so very lucky to have you!! XO~J.
Thank you sweet Julia! I treasure our friendship and it helps to fuel my determination to keep fighting! Look forward to seeing you soon. Big hugs! ~Sunbeam XOXO
Thanks for another great post today. I feel for you and know exactly what you are going thru. I have been on meds for chronic pain now for 17 years. It’s a tough battle to go through and some times are worse than others. I believe sometimes you have to keep your focus on other things as you do when you do Pilates. I am so looking forward to golf season. When I play golf my mind is focused on my game and I don’t think about my pain. We all hopefully have outlets that help us through the tough times.
Thank you! I’m sorry that you too deal with chronic pain. I agree that keeping our focus on other things is very important. I’m glad you have golf. I’m looking forward to getting out of our rainy season as the outdoors is my therapy. Take care and hope to see you at Corks for a Cure! 🙂
You are such an inspiration. Just when I think things in life aren’t going so well, your beautiful face pops up in my Instagram feed and reminds me of the power of positive thinking. I have so much to learn from you. Keep thinking good thoughts – even on days when you feel defeated, you are helping so many people get through.
Your message really touched me for several reasons…I adore you and you will always hold a special place in my heart and because it has been an interesting week for me. I had a sudden onset of sickness this week that took me to the ER. Due to the meds I take, my body suppresses symptoms when I’m sick and makes it difficult to figure out what is going on and makes it stressful and scary. All of your sentiments mean so much and your last sentence really inspired me. Thank you for your continued support and love. Miss you! xoxo
I often find myself feeling down. Due to health issues and chronic pain. I find myself trying to figure out, why am I in so much horrible pain at a young age. It does wear you down not only physically, but also mentally. I agree 100%! I wish I was better at handling this situation a lot better. When I do start feeling down, I try to automatically ask myself. If I threw all my problems in a pot with six other people’s problems, I can guarantee I’ll grab and choose my problems back. Others have it a lot worse than me. God never gives me more than I can handle. I’m tested often. I’ve questioned numerous times, if that’s really true.
Thank you for sharing and I’m sorry that you too are enduring health issues and chronic pain. Ironic you said that about others having it a lot worse, because I tried to remind myself that the other day. Sometimes thinking that helps me and other times not. We are human, it is ok to get mad, be upset and sad. It is healthy to let these emotions out, but then get right back on track of being strong and fighting. Having a positive outlet really helps me, something to shift my focus off of what I am enduring. I hope you have something you enjoy that can give you temporary relief/distraction from your day-to-day health struggles and pain. Mine is Pilates, the outdoors and my husband. Sending strength and love your way! Wishing you all the best!
Thanks for this timely encouragement. My pain is not like yours, but it is constant and wears me down. Sometimes I forget that the mind is the ruler and let myself sink into despondency. A couple days ago I started back with some simple Yoga exercises. I have a huge PKD belly so it’s a real challenge, especially the breathing. But I want to keep it up and am looking forward to seeing steady progress, even if it is real slow.
I’m glad to hear this post came at a good time for you, but sorry to hear that you deal with constant pain as well. It definitely can wear you down and I find it helpful to find distractions and activity that I can do, even if it is simple or slower than I’d like. Great to hear you started simple exercises. I tell myself that doing anything, even small, is better than nothing. I hope you are able to keep it up and that you see and feel improvement. Some days when my back is bothering me, I wind up feeling a little better if I get outside and go for a walk. Sometimes my body seems happier moving versus being still for too long. It is definitely a tricky balance. Wishing you all the best! Cheers to improved strength and less pain.