Managing anxiety about pain
Since I began experiencing symptoms of Crohn’s disease 11 years ago, pain has been the most prominent, distracting, upsetting and debilitating symptom I’ve dealt with.
I am so lucky to say that I’ve now been in remission for nearly two years, but I am still struggling with being anxious about pain: when will it return? Where will I be? How will it impact me? Will it land me in the hospital?
I thus wanted to share some tricks I’ve come up with to help manage this anxiety, in case any of you feel the same.
1. Breathe deeply. It sounds so basic, but it has made a huge difference in my ability to cope with anxiety when my heart and my thoughts are racing. There are some websites and apps that give you a metronome or image that expands and contracts as you inhale and exhale, and I’ve found this to be incredibly helpful.
2. Practice a grounding technique. My favorite one has me pause to identify the following: 5 things I can see, 4 things I can feel, 3 things I can hear, 2 things I can smell and 1 thing I can taste. This focusing activity really helps me to reset.
3. Have a plan. If I’m feeling particularly anxious about experiencing pain, I stop and create a plan. It can be very simple: take PRN medication and wait 2 hours to see how my body responds. If the pain persists, call the doctor. During the 2-hour-long wait, do something distracting, like calling a friend, watching a movie or playing a game.
I hope some of these help you!
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