#120 Set boundaries

For many of us this seems like the hardest thing to do. Even if you only have a few ounces of strength every day, you may find that you're using that energy on all the wrong things and you have little or nothing left to take care of yourself and tend to your own needs. If you're dealing with chronic illness, just a phone call can be quite draining and anything more is simply agonizing. If you often find yourself becoming resentful at other people's demands and expectations of you, it's time to take a closer look:

Are you setting clear boundaries?

It's very difficult to have a healthy relationship with a person who doesn't set boundaries, and it's nobody elses job to try to guess how you're feeling and constantly anticipate your needs. Nope. Sorry. It just doesn't work like that.

But setting boundaries doesn't mean you have to create a confrontation or conflict, the reason it feels so difficult is often just because we're not used to recognizing and respecting our own needs. We're not aware of what we want and don't want, so we project that insecurity, and then people can make unreasonable demands of us.

Start setting a boundary today, by finding out one thing that really matters to you and formulating a way to say that clearly. Maybe you need some time alone, or you really don't want to go on that planned outing today. How can you say that with the least possible drama, and without referring to your health condition?

#119 Balance training

Living with chronic pain always changes the way we use our bodies, and we tend to favor our stronger side. This way of using the body gradually builds an imbalance which in the long term causes more muscle pain, that is one of the reasons why balance training is especially important if you suffer from chronic pain.

This is an inflated balance trainer from Harbinger Fitness, but there are many other similar types that are great too. Doing exercises on a balance trainer requires you to maintain your center of gravity over a surface that is constantly changing. Just standing on it is challenging and builds plenty core muscles as your body moves and shifts into and out of balance.

Training the small muscles will help hold and build support for the larger muscles, and here you get the added benefit of a foot massage. Intuitively I notice that working on the small muscles also affects my nerve system in a positive way, reducing hypersensitivity and decreasing the perception of pain. Combined with some endorphin releasing high pulse training it is definetly a pain-management winner!

#118 Don't talk about it!

Some things are better left unsaid. If you have a chronic health condition, and your situation is stable but still agonizing, after a while talking about it just doesn't do you much good.

There's actually scientific research that shows that talking about pain triggers the pain centers in the brain, therefore actually increasing it...

Of course being silent is not a good option either. You will want some people in your network that you can talk to about everything, you may want to be on a pain forum or have a support group where you can vent, but with the people in your daily life and more distanced acquaintances you might just want to take the whole "pain & problems" issue off the table and focus on other and more uplifting things.

Can you just by being there, listening, and giving a new perspective, help your friends or loved ones improve their situations or feeling better about something they are dealing with? If so you are lifting not only them, but also yourself.

#117 Take Omega 3

I'm sure you've heard that it's been clinically proven to reduce inflammation and give pain relief, especially for neck and back pain among arthritis and fibromyalgia sufferers. Recent studies now show that high doses of Omega 3 also help neuropathic nerve pain.

Apparently, Omega 3 helps decrease inflammation by suppressing the production of cytokines - small secreted proteins which help regulate the immune system and inflammatory reactions

Usually taken as fish oil, because oil from salmon, herring, mackerel, trout, sardines and anchovies has high concentration of Omega 3, it is actually more potent in flaxseed oil and is less contaminated in krill and walnuts.

Talk to your doctor, and find out what kind of dosage you can try to see if this affects your pain:)

#116 Avoid the pain pitfalls

Ooooooh, I wish someone had told me about the most common pain pitfalls in the beginning of my patient career... This article on Today health MSNBC says exactly what I wanted to say, so I'm just reposting part of the text and adding the link:

"One major shift in thinking is that chronic pain is now believed to be a disease, not a symptom, and that treating pain is about not simply targeting the source but treating the whole person. Like heart disease or other chronic conditions, there’s no magic bullet, so you need to draw on a number of approaches, from exercise and medication to relaxation techniques and talk therapy."

#115 Bubble bath

With or without furry friends and cucumber slices, a steaming hot bubble bath is an all natural muscle relaxant that relieves pain and muscle tension. Also a good occasion to give yourself a scalp massage or some acupressure.

#114 Learn about pain

Following yesterday's topic about seeing beyond your diagnosis; what very many chronic diseases have in common is... you guessed it: PAIN.

When all has been said and done after onset of chronic disease or a traumatic injury, tests and scans have been carried out, possible surgical procedures evaluated or done, all types of medication has been tried with varying effect (sometimes it really works well, other times... not so well), sooner or later you have to accept a new status quo, and what you are left with is the foundation for your new life.

If you have the same pain for more than 3 months it is generally categorized as chronic pain.

What is Chronic Pain?
(From National Institutes of Health:) While acute pain is a normal sensation triggered in the nervous system to alert you to possible injury and the need to take care of yourself, chronic pain is different. Chronic pain persists. Pain signals keep firing in the nervous system for weeks, months, even years. There may have been an initial mishap -- sprained back, serious infection, or there may be an ongoing cause of pain -- arthritis, cancer, ear infection, but some people suffer chronic pain in the absence of any past injury or evidence of body damage. 

The problem with chronic pain is that it tends to intensify, as the neural pathways are heavily trafficked with pain signals, the actual nerves tend to become hyper-sensitivized. It's like turning up the volume of the pain, the longer it persists the stronger it gets.

While initially - when the pain is labeled as acute - pain medication like NSAIDS and opiods provide temporary relief, but after regular usage for longer periods of time pain medication can actually make the pain worse. You need a really good doctor, preferably a pain specialist, to be able to set a plan for correct medication of chronic pain.

Chronic pain also has other effects than just making your life miserable. It sets off a stress reaction in the brain, which makes patients more prone to hypertension, stress & burn out, and can affect cognition over long term. A study done at Northwestern University of Illinois in 2004 showed that chronic back pain shrank the brain by up to 11% brain, with memory loss being a common side-effect.

Learning about your specific diagnosis is very important, but learning about what pain does to you is equally important if you live with it over longer periods of time.

#113 See beyond your diagnosis

When we are relatively new to our diagnosis or health problem, we have a tendency to identify strongly with the actual diagnosis, we want it treated, we want it cured, we want to go back to living our life the way it was before we got sick.

I hear people saying; "I have Arthritis.", "I have Migraine." "I have RSD." or "I have Fibromyalgia." thus defining themselves by their disease, which is a natural part in the process of accepting and coping with a new reality. The diagnosis becomes a part of your identity in your new life, and you identify with others who share the same diagnosis and limit yourself from healthy people and patients with other problems because "they don't understand what it's like..."
There are countless support groups, organizations and forums for each diagnosis, and sometimes it is easy to focus on the differences, instead of what brings us all together.

I believe that all of us who suffer chronic health problems of any kind have a natural interest in seeing beyond our different diagnoses and working to improve the understanding, scientifically and socially of human health and what it means to live with chronic health problems and disease.

After 15 yrs as a professional patient my experience is this: We have more in common than we think!

See beyond your own diagnosis, talk to other patients, focus on what you have in common, what you can learn from each other and how the other person's experience can help you and vice versa.

Because we are stronger together:)

#112 Spinal flex

I like exercises that have max effect for minimum time and movement, and this is one of my favorites.
The "spinal flex" exercise from Kundalini yoga strengthens the spine, energizes the body and stimulates the thyroid gland to increase metabolism.

Sit in easy pose on the ground grabbing the ankles, or alternately on a chair holding on to your knees. 
As you inhale deeply, flex the spine forward pushing your breastbone towards the ceiling, keeping the shoulders relaxed and the head straight. Imagine you are holding a book on your head. Exhale and relax the spine back curving to stretch the vertebrae slightly. Continue rhythmically with deep breaths for 1-3 minutes. 

There: Friday's fitness program all done, you have a stronger spine and more energy, yay:D
(Check this video if you want to see it done in real time, though you don't have to do it as intensely as she does here, follow your breath and adjust to your body's signals.)

#111 Show how you feel

It's never too late to get real and be honest. If you feel happy and want to share it, you don't need any excuses to do so (like happy turban Tuesday from Natalie Dee...) so why should it be any different when you're feeling low?

"I'm hurting, I'm tired and I need help". How often haven't we needed to say those words, but not been able to actually say them?

Researchers say that as much as 57% of our communication is transmitted through body language, and further 36% is voice volume and tonality ... that means only 7% of your communication is through the actual words you say.

So showing how you feel is a good way of ensuring better communication. Be aware that your whole body is communicating all the time, and unfortunately this fact can be crucial when you have a doctor's appointment. Is your body language matching what you are saying, or are you putting on a brave facade for both yourself and your doc? If so why? Who are you trying to help by not letting your feelings show?

If necessary remember that a little everyday craziness can go along way.

#110 Neck extensions

Simple neck traction relieves pressure between the vertebras of the neck, gently stretches muscles and reduces headaches. This exercise has greatly helped my whiplash pain and migraines and it only takes 20-30 seconds. You don't need any traction device or fancy treatment facilities, it's as simple as taking hold of your head by the jawline and gently lifting to stretch and extend the neck. You can do it while lying down, sitting or standing. Don't twist or turn, just gently lift.

This video shows how you can use a towel or soft strap to do neck extensions at home:

#109 Visit the doctor

Some days are better than others, and some days ... well... they aren't that great. Some days you just have to throw in your towel, bite the dust, face the music, call in sick and go see the doctor. Today is one of those days for me... new doc... wish me luck!

#108 Collect Inspiration

One of my very favorite pain-free tips, and one that I share with many other pain survivors, is to collect inspirational quotes.

Thankfully, many wise and intelligent people have said and written wonderful things, and there is an enormous bounty of inspiration and wisdom out there to be collected and shared. My own inspirational quote collection is a work in progress... here are a few favorites:

”Imagination is more important than knowledge"
- Albert Einstein

"They succeed, because they think they can.”

”To conquer fear is the beginning of wisdom.”
-Bertrand Russell

This video has a great collection:

#107 Join a support group

You are not alone. Living with constant pain causes a lot of complications outside just the medical and physical challenges, and places a strain on relationships, work and family life which no-one else but other pain patients can understand. Meeting others who live with chronic pain can be a great help in reclaiming your life.

American Chronic Pain Association facilitates support groups all over the country, and last week I wrote about Paul Gileno, who founded Connecticut Pain Foundation and organizes a network of support groups in Connecticut.

If you can't find a group were you live, or you want to talk to someone right away, online forums like Heroes of Healing or the Chronic Pain Support Group on Daily Strength can be a great support network.

Find someone who is achieving results in managing their chronic pain and maintaining good life quality - because surely you can learn something from those people.

#106 Learn to walk again

After living with chronic pain for a long time, your range of physical movement may have become very limited. Many muscles become weaker, and joints that are not used regularly stiffen up. There's a natural tendency of compensating for weakness by walking stiffer, which again causes secondary muscle spasms and muscle pain.

A great way of breaking this negative cycle and rebuilding strength is to go back to the basics - learn to walk again using the core muscles of the pelvis, spine and thighs by breaking up the movement into it's separate parts to get a natural rolling movement into your walk which .

Many physical therapists offer this kind of training, called core integration. I learned it from a therapist who had a background in somatics.  She had us lying on the ground training how to reconnect our hips, knees and feet in a rolling motion in order to get power into a natural walk without using too much energy.

This video gives you the general idea, but you can do this yourself at home - the trick is to start really slow and roll the weight forward on your feet for each step as you walk.

#105 Listen to sad songs

Some say that things don't get better until you've reached bottom, so sometimes the best thing to do is just to allow yourself to be sad, have a pity party, put on some really sad music and cry it out. You don't have to be brave and strong all the time, you're doing great, put down your positive guard once in a while and allow yourself to grieve.

Here's a list on Spinner that may help set the mood, and here's my own blue list on Spotify.

#104 Gardening

Finally!!! It's springtime even here in the Swedish forests :D As I came back from my Easter holiday in Morocco this weekend, I was surprised to find that all the huge mounds of snow outside my house had melted... so fast!! the grass is still flat and yellow, having been crushed below a whole meter of snow and enduring the coldest winter we've had in many years.

On Sunday I went out to my friend Dina's house and we did some very gentle spring cleaning in her garden, cutting back the lilacs and thinning the raspberry bushes. Being outside in the spring sunshine for a few hours, doing meaningful work which will bring so much joy in the months to come (think of all those home grown raspberries!!!) is an excellent way of staying active and keeping my mind off health related issues. I don't have my own garden and I'm not overly ambitious, but this weekend I may visit the garden center and buy some flowers to plant in pots and tubs on my balcony...

And as added benefits you get to soak up the sunlight, get more Vitamin D (which has been shown to reduce many types of muscle and joint pain) and look at something beautiful:)

#103 Calming incense

I find that stimulating other sensory systems than the ones transmitting pain signals can help my relieve chronic pain, and scents are among the things I use.

Burning incense to induce a calm, meditative state or to clear space is an ancient practice. One strategic way to use it is to connect a certain smell with a state of mind, by burning a certain incense especially for relaxing before you rest or meditate over a period of time. That way your brain will adjust to induce a state of relaxation when you recognize that specific scent, also if you are in pain. If you wish to do this "programming" or "anchoring" of a scent, be careful to chose a common type that will not prove impossible to buy in the future, common scents like lavender or blends like Nag Champa will always be available.

#102 Brush it off

It aids circulation, blocks pain signals by tricking the sensory system, helps detoxification, reduces hypersensitivity and rejuvenates the skin: dry brushing is a really simple home remedy which can be part of your pain management program.

All you need is a soft natural brush: Stand in the shower before turning the water on, begin with extremities – feet first, brushing in a circular motion towards the heart while moving upward slowly toward the ankles, calves, thighs, stomach, hands and arms, then back (as much as you can reach), face, throat and neck.

The following text is copied from Dr. Moffats Natural Health Techniques
Did You Know?
  • The skin is the largest most important eliminative organ in the body and is responsible for one quarter of the body’s detoxification each day?
  • The skin eliminates over one pound of waste acids each day in the average adult, most of it through the sweat glands?
  • That the skin is known also as our third kidney?
  • That the skin receives one third of all the blood circulated in the body?
  • That the skin is the last to receive nutrients in the body, yet the first to show signs of imbalance or deficiency?

Detoxification is performed by a number of organs, glands, and transportation systems, including the skin, gut, kidneys, liver, lungs, lymphatic system, and mucous membranes. The dry brushing technique deals with detoxification of the skin.

Dry brushing is a way to stimulate all the above organs of detoxification because it provides a gentle internal massage.
Dry Brushing was recommended by the Finnish Dr. Paavo Airola for his patients 30 years ago and is still popular in European spas and many cancer treatment centers today. The Russians, Turks and Scandinavians have used this treatment for centuries. Dry brushing is promoted as a preventative for dry skin and a way to exfoliate the skin, thus stimulating skin renewal that is super soft to the touch, but there are many other benefits as well:

Benefits of Dry Skin Brushing Explained:
1.    Removes cellulite
2.    Cleanses the lymphatic system
3.    Removes dead skin layers
4.    Strengthens the immune system
5.     Stimulates the hormone and oil-producing glands
6.    Tightens the skin preventing premature aging
7.    Tones the muscles
8.    Stimulates circulation
9.    Improves the function of the nervous system
10.  Helps digestion 
11.  AND it’s easy, inexpensive and invigorating!

#101 Document good days

When you've had many bad days in a row, it's easy to think that "this is hopeless", and "my health will never get better", and if you get disappointed time after time, trying to do more than your health permits and having to give up again and again, this negative self dialogue can turn into: "I'm hopeless, I will never be able to do anything"...

Many doctors teach us to keep a pain journal, which is all good and an important tool in your treatment, but it's also important to document the good times!

I make sure to take photos during good phases when I am able to be outside, go out and about and do fun things with friends and family.

At home I have a digital photo album named "Happy memories". I let that album run as a screen saver on my computer when I am in a bad pain flare, or just stuck inside for longer periods of time because of bad health.

Even if I don't have strength to actually watch it, it's there, silently in the background, showing faces of my loved ones, beautiful places I've seen and memories of good times shared. At some level it registers, even if I'm really far gone, and seeing those photos scroll through one by one brings up good feelings and reminds me that pain is not everything in life, even when it feels that way right now: There WILL be good days again, and this gives me hope and strength to continue, because deep down I know there are so many more joyful memories to be made.

Here's one good memory: an afternoon sailing trip on the Oslofjord with my friend Dina and her father a few years ago. To see this, nobody would guess I had severe pain every day, was handicapped and wheelchair bound part of that summer. But I had that good day and had that experience, and having it documented reminds me of how wonderful life can be - even if I'm in pain.

#100 Help others

Paul Gileno is a chronic pain patient who has dedicated his life to helping others who are suffering from pain. Paul was a young and successful business owner who after having a spinal fracture due to a work accident developed RSD, which is an extremely agonizing chronic pain condition that baffles most of the medical community.

Paul started reaching out to communicate with other pain patients in Connecticut in 2006, to see if there were more like him, and if maybe more patients were interested in starting a support group together. He was surprised that it was so difficult to find support groups for pain patients, so he decided to start one himself, and the rest is history...
4 years later Paul is the founder and leader of the Connecticut Pain Foundation, which today has over 900 members and runs 5 support groups per week in different locations. From being a personal project of starting a local support group, CT Pain has grown to become network organization which provides hope, guidance and support to thousands of pain patients, with a mission to "connect, inform and empower".

A beacon of strength, Paul personally fights for all his members, providing them with support, advice and guidance. He also tirelessly takes care of organizing support groups, spreading information and training group facilitators without ever asking for anything in return.

"Helping others is a way to reduce your own pain" says Paul; "I find my pain is reduced when I am able to help someone else through something difficult, or share an experience that helps someone."

I'm letting Paul's amazing example speak for itself... if you want to know more you can link up with him and the CT Pain Foundation on Facebook or on Heroes of Healing.

#99 Yoga

Yoga means union of mind and body and is a complete system or philosophy of life dating back several thousand years.

There are so many different kinds of yoga, and several thousand asanas - or poses, that it's difficult to know where to begin, but suffice to say, there is a kind of yoga for every person and every condition.

How Yoga uses concentration on the breath to connect mind and body and at the same time doing gentle exercises that stimulate various parts of the body and nervous system has shown to be very beneficial for all kinds of ailments, most notably depression - a common side effect of chronic pain.

You may think "I can't do that" when you see these yoga-health nuts twisting and bending in incredible positions, but that gymnastic style is just ONE form of yoga... a lot of yoga you can do while sitting still, or lying down, and you still get the great health benefits. My grandmother, who also suffered from Rheumatoid Arthritis, practiced yoga way into her eighties, and always claimed it had done wonders for her health.

Most important is that you find a well qualified instructor or yoga therapist, who understands your health problems and can tailor a home training program to your specific needs. With just a few exercises done regularly every day, you may soon be making significant improvements.

#98 Look at something beautiful

Our surroundings have a big impact on our well being, and optimal healing conditions are clean, serene and beautiful. This is my daybed in the summer house I had in Dalsland, with a view of the lake. I spend a lot of time lying down because of my back fracture, so in my home there is a place to lie down in every room, and I make sure the surroundings are pleasing to the eye, so I can focus on resting and healing when I need to.

No matter how weak I am, and no matter how much pain I'm in, I always gain some mental relief by looking at something beautiful. You don't need to remodel your home to surround yourself with beauty, clearing your space and adding some small items in vibrant colors that appeal to you may be enough.
Having fresh fruit, or just a single rose by your bedside when you are stuck in bed with a pain flare up, gives you something nice to look at and enjoy.

#97 Drink herbal tea

Many chronic pain conditions are exacerbated by dehydration, and also to aid digestion and help minimize side effects of medication it's very important to drink enough liquids during the day. Herbal tea and infusions are a great way of getting hydrated - with extra benefits!

I'm not an expert at this, but I've been told that camomile is good for relaxation, and that ginger, willowbark and turmeric can be good for treating pain. By visiting a well supplied health food store you can look and smell at different infusions and blends, and choose those that appeal to you. Maybe there is a person there who knows about the benefits of different types of tea, and you can build your own little tea-pharmacy. After all, many effective pharmaceutical drugs are based on ancient herbal remedies.

According to wikipedia: "Many of the pharmaceuticals currently available to physicians have a long history of use as herbal remedies, including morphine, aspirin, digitalis, and quinine. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 80 percent of the world's population presently uses herbal medicine for some aspect of primary health care."

Personally I'm a big fan of yogi tea spice infusions, and peppermint tea is a staple in my kitchen. For many years I have harvested peppermint from a plant that has grown wild in my mother's garden. It has spread in a whole area, so the supply is more than plentiful, I tie the stalks together and hang them to dry in the attic for a few weeks, then crush the dried leaves and have my own free supply of my favorite tea.

#96 Wear wristwarmers

A pair of nice felted wristwarmers offer relief from rheumatic aches and pains in the hands and fingers, aid circulation and help mobility in the wrists. They also warm the rest of the body by minimizing heat loss from the main artery that runs close underneath the skin in that area.

The ones in the picture are from Feltlovely on the handmade paradise webstore etsy.com.


#95 Spa

One of my favorite self-treatments for pain relief is going to a spa or a "hammam", a turkish bath.
Being weightless in very warm water can be great for my back pain, but because it can aggravate inflammation I have to be a bit careful. Good spas also have an ice cold dipping pool, and going from hot to cold water greatly relieves muscle pain by reducing muscle tension, improving circulation and supplying a boost of natural pain relieving endorphins and dopamine (which is also why I start my day with a cold shower).

These days a "spa" can be anything from a massage salon with a shower, to a total wellness center with heated pools with different temperatures, infrared light rooms, snow rooms, sound therapy rooms, saunas, steam rooms and salt water tubs. Whenever I travel I always check if there are spas in the area, and that way I have had some great experiences, with all time favorites being the ancient Turkish baths in Budapest, public baths in Sevilla, the blue lagoon in Iceland and the amazing Spa Vitalizee in Holland.

Usually associated with total luxury and expensive beauty treatments, entry to a good spa shouldn't cost more than 30-50 dollars, and for that price you can spend the whole day there. Just one visit every few months means a huge difference to my health and well being, and especially if you suffer from chronic musculoskeletal pain, I strongly recommend it.

#94 Share Your Story

At certain points during my healing journey, it was difficult for me to share my feelings with friends and family. It was not that I did not want to be honest with my loved ones, but it was easier to protect myself by saying everything was fine. By then, I was tired of being the one left out, the one who could not do everything, the one who did not fit in that I hid my fears and struggles from everybody. While keeping my feelings bottled inside of me appeared to serve me in the moment, it hindered my overall recovery process. Not only was I holding onto the fear and pain, but I also did not realize how I was hurting my loved ones by being secretive.

If I can offer some advice to you, it would be to become a teacher to your support system. Let friends and family member know what is happening by sharing your story. Make sure they know that they can ask you any questions, and give them information to read on the condition so they have a better understanding of the disease and its progression. I learned during my own ordeal that having credible information is imperative. With knowledge, one becomes less fearful and more accepting and empathetic.

My wish is that other chronic pain survivors stop hiding from the anguish and stop feeling guilty and ashamed; instead, let those closest to you into your inner-circle. Allow them to share in this experience with you. Remember, it is okay to grieve and it is okay to your guard down. We are human, and I think asking for help shows just how strong we truly are. We all have a story to tell, and I would love to hear yours.

Believing in Miracles,

#93 Go global

Pain is a global issue, and 20% of the world's population deal with chronic pain. That means there are many different kinds of pain-relieving techniques out there, so why stick to your local doc and pharmacy, when you can try chinese fire-cupping, or Swedish massage?

Last week my Dad and Ros came back from a trip to Asia and they brought me this traditional pain relieving Angkor Balm from Cambodia. It came wrapped in a round wooden jar in a bamboo basket, so I haven't had the heart to open it before taking a picture. Once I try it I will tell you how it works:D

As this is being posted I am sitting on a plane on the way to Morocco, to visit my good friend Susanna who lives there. One week of warm African weather should do miracles for my stiff joints and aching back, and if I find some new and exotic pain remedy, I promise to blog about it!

#92 Hang in there

Many people suffering from back pain find relief in traction therapy, or inversion therapy. Inversion therapy, for example on an inversion table, means you hang upside down, relieving pressure on the spine and diminishing the effect of gravity. Though only a temporary relief, if used regularly it can reduce your pain levels significantly, especially if you suffer from sciatica, pinched nerves and compressed or herniated discs.

There's a simple way of finding out if spinal traction works for you: while lying down, have someone pull your legs gently, or while standing have someone standing with their arms around you from behind, lifting slightly and stretching you gently from the waist. If this feels at all relieving for your back pain, you will probably benefit from other kinds of spinal traction or inversion therapy.

Be careful and consult your doctor before attempting complete "upside down" inversion therapy, it is not right for everyone and can be dangerous if you have a heart condition.

#91 Practice Positive Thinking

One of the most annoying pieces of advice, and something that really feels unnatural when life in general sucks... as it often does when you're living with a chronic disease: "Think positive!"

But... it works. Being able to train your mind to adopt an optimistic attitude significantly reduces the experience of pain, and there is research showing that positive thinking can have as strong pain reducing effect as a shot of morphine. If you think this is strange, just consider this; even though there is concrete physical damage to the body, it's the brain and nervous system that interprets this and produces the pain signals. It's obvious that what happens to the brain and nervous system affects your perception of pain, the two can never be fully "separate".

So if you're born an optimist, that's great for you, but if you're like most people, keeping a positive outlook is something you have to choose to exercise and maintain just like any other capacity. Making a conscious choice to change your thinking is the first step, and from there on you can train and gradually build a strong positive way of thinking,which will help you in all areas of life.

Here's a step by step guide to help making the change:
  • Observe and gradually turn around any negative inner dialogue. When you observe yourself going into a spiral of negative thoughts, don't judge yourself, just say "Ok, I'm repeating my pattern" then counter the negative thoughts with positive statements that promote your recovery.
  • Send yourself a steady stream of affirmations. An affirmation is a phrase or sentence that sends strong, positive statements to your mind about yourself, such as "I am a good person" or "My joints are strong and flexible." Need inspiration? Check out the !Think Positive! blog for a daily positive affirmation.
  • Visualize health and healing. Add mental images that support your positive affirmations.
  • Don't feel guilty. There is no value in feeling guilty about health problems. While there is a lot you can do to reduce your risk for health problems and improve your chances of recovery, some illnesses may develop and persist no matter what you do. Some things just are. Accept that you are doing the best you can and applaud yourself for that.
PS: here is a good article about positive psychology.... and oh...positivity spreads:)