Taking the time to put pen to paper or listing aloud 3 things you're grateful for may not be at the top of your priority list when you suffer with chronic pain. But what if it had the power to change your life and greatly support you on your pain management journey.
We understand that this may sound absurd, but the science backs it up! Studies have proven that incorporating regular gratitude into your life can have a tremendous effect on overall pain levels. (5 Exercises to Ease Chronic Pain With Gratitude, 2022)
It's commonly accepted that a positive attitude and perspective come with huge mental and physical benefits. Neuroscience has shown the connection between our thought life, mental resilience & our physical body.
Dr. Caroline Leaf is a communication pathologist and cognitive neuroscientist and she has found, “Each time a thought dominates your conscious mind, you can do something with it. You are not a victim of your biology; you can control your reactions to events and circumstances. You can choose to keep your thinking the same or change it. Either way, protein synthesis happens. The toxic memory will either be changed or strengthened.” (Chris Kresser, 2022)
Finding the strength to search for reasons to be grateful may be a challenge, but you won’t be disappointed. Strong interactions between the conscious and subconscious mind and ongoing and intentional positive thinking work together to reprogram the brain. Some of the positive benefits linked with positive thinking, especially gratitude, include:
Gratitude at its core is a positive emotion and the most efficient way to incorporate it into your life is through active gratitude. If you’re feeling more open to the idea and wondering where to begin, a simple way to start is to take a moment now and list aloud 3 things you're grateful for. The physical act of identifying what we truly are thankful for and cultivating a posture of gratitude is active gratitude.
For some, making gratitude a part of your day may look like writing a list in your journal with a cup of coffee each morning or maybe listing aloud what you’re grateful for as family around the dinner table. Like most good habits, it will take some time to take effect, but be encouraged to stick with it and see the benefits for yourself.
Jennifer Kane author of ‘Chronic Pain Recovery: A Practical Guide to Putting Your Life Back Together After Everything Has Fallen Apart’ had this to say about gratitude journalling, “Essentially, the whole process is a lot like water torture — but with positivity being dripped onto/into your head instead of water. Each day you drip three positive thoughts until the day comes that you realise those thoughts are starting to naturally occur and replicate on their own. The best part of this type of reprogramming is it won’t need a system update every year like your computer or phone. Once you change some of these thought patterns, they’ll be changed for good, which will help with your depression, your pain, and your entire life.” (Kane, 2022)
Painmedicinegroup.com. 2022. Gratitude and Pain : Pain Medicine Group: Interventional Pain Medicine. [online] Available at: <https://www.painmedicinegroup.com/blog/gratitude-and-pain> [Accessed 2 August 2022].
Chris Kresser, M., 2022. Rewiring the Brain through Neuroplasticity, with Dr. Caroline Leaf. [online] Chris Kresser. Available at: <https://chriskresser.com/rewiring-the-brain-through-neuroplasticity-with-dr-caroline-leaf/> [Accessed 2 August 2022].
Psychology Today. 2022. 5 Exercises to Ease Chronic Pain With Gratitude. [online] Available at: <https://www.psychologytoday.com/au/blog/ease-pain/202112/5-exercises-ease-chronic-pain-gratitude> [Accessed 2 August 2022].
Kane, J., 2022. Gratitude Journaling: A Simple Idea That Actually Helps Chronic Pain. [online] Medium. Available at: <https://medium.com/pain-talks/gratitude-journaling-a-simple-idea-that-actually-helps-chronic-pain-6f277f327e31> [Accessed 2 August 2022].
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