I’ve been experiencing pain for some time now, but I recently discovered a new view of the problem. Pain, in some cases at least, is not caused by something wrong at the site of the pain. Rather, it’s your nervous system messing up. You can, according to a book that I’m reading, retrain your nervous system and get rid of the pain.
The book is The Pain Relief Secret: How to Retrain Your Nervous System, Heal Your Body, and Overcome Chronic Pain. Nothing like a pithy title. Anyway, it includes writing exercises. The first one is to make a list of the things that cause me stress:
- We’re having a global pandemic and more than 100,000 people have died.
- Because of said pandemic, I’ve been at home for a month seeing nobody but my husband in person.
- I miss my kids and grandchildren.
- My husband, who is an extrovert, is lonely and bored at home.
- Taxes — I haven’t done them yet.
- My printer isn’t working.
- I don’t know whether there will be negative effects in my business.
- Sometimes I’ve felt a bit overwhelmed by the amount of work, though of course that’s a good problem to have.
- I’ve been experiencing pain — though that actually has gotten better already.
- I’ve been allowing myself to eat in self-indulgent ways, and I worry that this will affect my health.
- Ditto for skipping or limiting exercise.
That’s the bottom of the barrel. I will come back during the day if I notice other sources of stress.
I’m back! I noticed a couple more stress sources:
- Difficult client requests — not things that are hard to do, but scope creep and requests we would advise against.
- I also find myself, with my laptop working on the sofa, hunching up my shoulders. My pain experience is not connected with my shoulders, but it wouldn’t be surprising if it were. I’m trying for better posture.
- COVID-19 related research for blog posts means I have bad news and horrifying stuff washing through my brain for much of the day. I noticed that today because I mostly wasn’t writing about that stuff, but most days I am.
Back again the next day to report the things that woke me up in the middle of the night:
- Worrying about a client
- Feeling bad about failing to get this month’s WP meetup on Zoom. I asked at the beginning of the month and got just one response, assumed that meant people didn’t want to, and forgot about it.
You can find stuff about “expressive writing” for pain relief all over the internet. Sometimes the instructions say that you have to destroy what you write immediately. The book doesn’t say that, so I don’t plan to destroy this.
I’ve been allowing myself to sleep in (till 7:00 or so), but this morning I woke at 5:30. I’ve taken the time to write this post and to look back through my blog in an attempt to find where the pain started. No luck on that. It was small when it began, apparently small enough that I didn’t feel a need to write about it. I think it has gradually gotten worse over the course of a year or so. I haven’t come up with a solution yet, and haven’t gone to see a doctor, but it has gotten bad enough that I think I should deal with it.
As for stress, I think the pandemic is plenty. Things are not that bad for me. All of my family is working and getting paychecks. I have a comfortable house and have been able to get pretty much everything we need — even a thermometer, though it took some time and help from others. I’ve missed out on some events, I miss seeing friends and family, but I am an introvert and I enjoy hanging out at home.
I’m trying to be kind to myself.
This week I allowed myself to buy half a dozen books and I’ve been self-indulgent with crafts supplies as well, which makes me worry a little in case I suffer from the expected coronavirus economic crisis. On the other hand, I’m stuck in my home and if there is also an economic crisis, I want to have plenty of books and craft supplies on hand. Also tea.
Books, yarn, and tea could be enough stress relief for me.