Chronic Pain: Mind-Body Connection
If you’ve suffered from chronic pain or illness, you are likely acutely aware of the mind-body connection. Meditation, visualization, affirmation, journaling and energy work have moved from the fringes to the mainstream, and it is now almost trendy to address the mental-emotional component of healing.
However, if your experience is anything like mine, this work isn’t always a satisfying phenomenon, as the idea and power of “mind over the body” is often only presented as a last-ditch effort to explain the cases doctors can’t easily diagnose.
It’s All in Your Head
I can’t tell you how many times doctors, friends and family members have suggested that my symptoms are “all in my head.” I resent these comments and the feelings surrounding them for my past self and for YOU!
I strongly urge you to advocate for yourself and find healthcare providers who will listen and work to find answers (even if your issues aren’t immediately diagnosable).
Keeping that close circle of friends for support will be especially helpful during this time as well.
The Emotional Toll
The power of the mind in the healing process, and the role of trauma and emotions in chronic illness cannot be overlooked.
It’s often after multiple failed attempts with mainstream approaches, when we’ve exhausted the usual resources and start to feel drained, angry and desperate, that we turn to the mental-emotional components.
I reached this point a few months ago, and it was a tough pill to swallow. I received the discouraging news that, after months and months of a strict supplement and dietary regimen, my body was no better than when I started.
Reassess and Realign
This news caused me to reassess my treatment plan and to tune into myself. I realized almost immediately that, while my health issues were not in my head, my healing required me to get my mind on board, release trapped emotions, and deal with childhood trauma.
Am I fully healed? Nope.
Am I an expert? Nope.
Am I further along than I was when I started? Hell yes!
Do I hope to help catapult your healing journey by sharing mine? Hell yes!
Practices and Resources to Try Along Your Healing Journey
Attending therapy regularly – I love to see my therapist(s) every week in-person. Thanks to technology and innovation in the wake of the pandemic, you can participate in therapy virtually, too! I highly recommend the Psychology Today online search tool to find a therapist close to you.
Harness your scrolling – Follow accounts that discuss mental health. Please note: I am referring to accounts that address mental health in ways that empower and educate, rather than those that preach toxic-positivity from an uneducated standpoint.
Here are a few I love:
Release trapped emotion – Physically release emotion by yelling, crying and dancing intuitively. I first learned to use intuitive movement in this way via @kreftscouch
Read books – Choose books that educate and empower you to harness the mind’s power. Here are a few I’ve found to be helpful:
- “I Thought It Was Just Me (but it isn’t)” by Brene Brown
- “The Law of Success” by Napoleon Hill
- “The Big Leap: Conquer your Hidden Fear and Take Life by the Next Level” by Gay Hendricks
- “Healing Back Pain: The Mind-Body Connection” by John E. Sarno, M.D.
- “Switch on Your Brain” by Dr. Caroline Leaf
Shift your focus to gratitude – Start each day with gratitude and a focus on what is going well with your body. I love to write in a gratitude journal each morning.
It’s nothing fancy, just a blank notebook where I write three things I’m thankful for and three things my body is progressing successfully with. The entire process takes me about five minutes, and changes the trajectory of my entire day.
Distract yourself a little – Now, I don’t mean that you should do anything to numb yourself or to live in denial, but it’s hard to heal and live in joy and gratitude when you’re consumed by what is wrong with your body.
I found it helpful to get involved locally in charities and fundraisers, as well as the local fashion scene:
- North Idaho Centennial Trail Foundation
- CDA Fashion Week
- The Children’s Village
- Idaho Drug Free Youth
Services that Serve Y-O-U
- My progress was greatly sped up by energy work completed with Whitney Jean of Empowered Pivot Body Work
- Sherilyn Long, at CDA Acupuncture, Chiropractic & Holistic Healing was pivotal in my realization that emotions were likely keeping my body from healing. I cannot recommend her enough for body work and lymphatic drainage, as her intuition can’t be replicated. She noticed tightness in the fascia (connective nerve tissue) surrounding my liver, and pointed out that issues around this area are often tied to anger and resentment, which are usually secondary emotions. She walked me through identifying and releasing these emotions.
These practices, resources and services are merely means to the same end: To address the mental and emotional aspects of physical healing, to treat ourselves like we would a good friend and to release emotions that may be trapped and wreaking havoc.
I would love to hear how you connect with your emotions and treat yourself (well!). Please connect with me on Instagram @bailey_bowerman to keep the discussion and our tandem-healing journey going!
xoxo your favorite late bloomer
Bailey is a self-proclaimed recovering attorney and late bloomer. She loves words, rest, and hyping entrepreneurs and creatives. She lives in Idaho with her husband and is decidedly and unapologetically NOT outdoorsy.