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5 Ways to Cope When You're Struggling With Physical and Emotional Pain


I can’t remember what it feels like to wake up and feel well. To be honest, at this point, I forget what it means to feel well. I would love to know what a normal, healthy body feels like, but I don’t remember.

I experience chronic pain every day. So even though I am young and am told I’ve still got a young healthy body and I shouldn’t have aches and pains, I do anyway. I feel stiff or I feel sharp pangs of pain. I get tense in my neck and shoulders and I get headaches. The pain that sets in is sometimes so deep that I can’t stop tears from falling down my face.

Oh, those tears aren’t always for a physical pain. Sometimes, the tears are the result of an emotional pain. An almost indescribable sadness. I feel sad down to my core. I feel unimportant. I feel alone. If you’ve never felt this way, let me tell you a bit about it. It hurts. It does not feel right. It’s not the same as having a bad day or feeling a bit sad. It’s an all-encompassing emotional pain you want to escape but you can’t.

When I experience the physical pain, typically the emotional pain follows. Or vice versa. I am usually not one without the other. When I have pain as my constant companion, of course I don’t feel well. And when they come around more days than they don’t, I begin to wonder, is this the new normal?

If you have a chronic or mental illness, it very well may be the new normal. You might never wake up feeling your mind, body and spirit have perfectly aligned. If that’s the case, here are a few ways to accept and embrace yourself.

1. Find a safe haven.

Do you feel great when you are sprawled out on the bed? Does yoga help you feel aligned and minimize your pain? When you meditate do you find a peaceful state? Experiment with different activities, body positions or moments to discover your safe haven. It might take a while, but once you find your thing, every time you find yourself having a particularly bad time, you can engage in your safe haven to feel better… if only for a little while.

2. Don’t dwell on it.

If you sit there feeling down and continue to think about your pain, you won’t be able to recover. Find a way to focus on something else and not worry or compare your personal state of being to others. This can be so difficult, but allowing your mind a moment to be free of whatever demon is ailing you can be so powerful. You body can relax when your mind isn’t focused on it and this can help calm your nerves and your pain.

3. Seek help.

If your mental illness causes you pain or your chronic illness causes you mental anguish, find support and treatment. You may always experience pain but that doesn’t mean you cannot find treatment (medicinal, physical, therapeutic, whatever works) to minimize it and improve it. Find a therapist, doctor, friend or family member that can help you work towards feeling better, whatever better is able to for you.

4. Never stop fighting.

Keep reaching for improvements. Try anything that is safe for you to do that might improve your situation. Maybe there was a new medication your doctor thinks you should try. Maybe it’s some type of acupuncture or physiotherapy. Perhaps it’s a new type of workout that will give you more strength. There will always be something new to try that has the possibility of improving things. If it doesn’t work, at least you can’t say you didn’t try. And if it does, then you’ll be glad you did it!

5. Educate yourself.

Learn the ins and outs of whatever is ailing you. Ask questions. Do your own research. Consider if nutrition, activities or thoughts can affect your ailments. Knowledge can be very powerful. Sometimes, even if you can’t change the situation, the knowledge of how or why you feel the way you do can help you to move through moments of pain.

At the end of the day, remember that only you truly know what you are experiencing and what helps you feel better. Do you feel fantastic when you wake up? Probably not. Do you live inside a normal body? Maybe not. But what’s normal anyways?

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Thinkstock photo via llhedgehogll.