This episode is entitled “Stay positive with chronic low back pain”, and it covers:
- Why you should stay positive with chronic low back pain
- Avoid negative outlook
- Have a big goal for your chronic low back pain
- Start low and build slow
- Celebrate the positive wins
- Stay focused – don’t look for quick fixes
- Have a coach to help you stay positive
- Expect and plan for setbacks
- Build habits for your chronic low back pain
Why you should stay positive with chronic low back pain
That which we think, we become. Pain is correlated with negative outlook and attention to the body part. If you think about your pain a lot, that’s what you will manifest. What goes on in your central nervous system controls how much pain you experience. Your thinking is super important when it comes to recovering from chronic pain. When your world is dominated by thoughts about pain, that’s what your world will be. If you ruminate over and over about your pain, it reinforces the pain pathways and turns up the volume on your pain. Don’t spend all of your time thinking about your pain and focused on your opinion because that negative outlook and attention to the pain will only cause more pain.
Avoid negative outlook
Don’t spend your time thinking about the pain, it just makes it worse. This is very hard to do when your pain is all consuming, but the impact of that focusing and thinking about your pain will unfortunately increase your pain experience. Avoid thinking about it and stay positive about your chronic low back pain.
Have a big goal for your chronic low back pain
Focus on where you want to be. Make sure you have a long-term motivating big goal. It needs to be smart, specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely. Put a timeline on it. Be specific about that goal. There might still be some pain in your life, but it’s very important that you find the goal motivating, because this has been a long-term problem for you. It’s going to take time and you need to keep focused on that.
Start low and build slow
Accept where you are, but take small steps towards that big goal. In order to stay positive about your chronic low back pain, you need to keep moving. Don’t try and take giant leaps, because the pain will flare up and you will feel like you’re back where you started. Don’t get carried away, stop, start low and build slow.
Celebrate the positive wins
That could be something substantial like finally being able to sit for 10 minutes without a flare up in your pain. But it can also be a win in terms of doing the thing you’d committed to do on a daily basis. Every time you’ve done your exercises, celebrate, Ideally with someone else. It’s really helpful to have that social element involved. It’s like priming the trigger for your next thing. It helps you keep going on to the next thing, whereas if you don’t, everything becomes quite flat and you don’t recognize that you’re making progress. They may be small steps, but celebrate them.
Stay focused – don’t look for quick fixes
We’ve accepted that it’s going to take some time. People often hunt around for something else. Maybe that person can help. Maybe a different drug, maybe surgery. That may be the case, but remember to have a plan and stick to it. Stay focused on your plan and don’t go looking around for something else that might give you a quick fix, because that actually is bringing you back to focusing on your pain. You’re saying to your brain that there’s a problem and you need a solution now. You’re focusing on the problem and not on the solution. Stay focused on that big goal and those small steps towards it, rather than constantly scanning the horizon looking for quick fixes.
Have a coach to help you stay positive
Whether it be through our backpainandsciatica.com platform, through activeX-Box or through some other mechanism. It doesn’t have to be someone who has super high knowledge of back pain and sciatica, it could just be a conventional coach who helps you to articulate that big, smart goal and to stay focused on the small steps that are going to get you there. Accountability can help enormously. It could be a family member or a friend who just cheers you up and celebrate the small wins, nudges you and reminds you to stay committed. Having a coach can provide enormous value on you.
Expect and plan for setbacks
They will happen. You will have flare ups of pain along the way. Maybe two or three days go by where you just didn’t do what you’d committed to. That’s fine, what’s important is to stay positive and keep moving in the right direction for your chronic low back pain. Before you have a setback, make sure you’ve planned for those. If you had a bad day, it’s helpful to identify what caused it. But sometimes you just won’t know, so don’t focus on it. Forget it and move on. Stay focused on the big goal. Don’t worry about the day-to-day stuff. That will drag you back down that cliff of pain and keep you embedded in pain. Make sure you have a plan for the possible setbacks. If you have a flare up of pain, you might take some Paracetamol or do more relievers or talk to a friend or watch a funny movie. Something to reboost yourself.
Build habits for your chronic low back pain
You can’t do this randomly, on an ad hoc. Build habits. Make sure you know what relievers you’re going to do, what preventers you’re going to do, and create habits around those. If you want a behaviour to happen, you need the ability, the motivation and the prompt to do it. You have to structure environment or have the right things to hand that enable you to do it. If your recovery from chronic lower back pain involves losing weight and you need to do more exercise, a prompt could be leaving your running shoes by the front door so that they act as a prompt when you come in from work. And you need the ability, so make sure it’s something you can do. Schedule a time you can do it. You have to create the time and the space.
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