When someone visits the doctor with pain, they may really be saying, “I’m worried”. For most people with persistent pain there is no visible tissue damage. This can be confusing. They may worry there is something very wrong that hasn’t yet been picked up; that the pain will just get worse; that they’ll never be able to do things they hoped for their life.
Here are ways you can help friends and family by understanding the social side to pain:
1. IT’S NEVER JUST ABOUT THE PAIN
People tend to tell our pain-sensitive yoga teachers they are at their class to reduce pain. But when things improve, they say the benefits were things like finding acceptance, confidence and a sense of hope.
Try to find out what your friend with chronic pain is really worried about and offer simple antidotes. If your child fears he will never finish school because pain makes him miss so much, how could you celebrate the life learning he gets from a book he may never have read otherwise? If a friend fears missing out on important social activities, can you schedule a regular catchup that’s easy for them to access.
2. YOU IMPACT OTHER PEOPLE’S PAIN
Many people with persistent pain become socially isolated. This is due in large part to their personal capacity to spend time out. However friends and family may extend fewer invitations out of frustration. By understanding that your friend may have limited energy you may be able to organise events that are more meaningful for both of you. Instead of a 2-hour lunch on the other side of town, a 15-minute stretch and cuppa may be a better fit for both of you.
3. THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX
In our social impact report we write about evidence that yoga can help with the physiology of pain. But more and more we are realising the real impact is its capacity to transition people out of medical care and into community. Imagine isolated pain patients having somewhere they felt comfortable going every week, could get exercise, and receive dashes of pain education. If your family member is really struggling, be creative about what you could do to help. It might not be what you think.
For a copy of the whole impact report email firstname.lastname@example.org
Guest Writer Rachael West
Personal experience with fibromyalgia led Rachael West to study Yogic Education at university in France. She runs Finding Yoga to help all people with pain access the benefits of yoga.
Article first appeared in Blooming Minds eMag