Being flexible can protect mental health in people with chronic pain

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Pain is a part of life. But for one in five people, pain isn’t just an occasional inconvenience – it’s a constant companion.

This is called chronic pain, and it can drastically impact a person’s day-to-day activities and overall mental health.

What Is Chronic Pain?

Chronic pain is a kind of discomfort that lasts for a long time – usually more than three months.

Unlike acute pain which goes away once the injury heals, chronic pain persists even after recovery. It could be due to various conditions like arthritis, back problems, or nerve damage.

A group of scientists from Edith Cowan University in Australia wanted to know more about chronic pain.

They asked more than 300 people who experience chronic pain daily, but not because of cancer, to answer some questions.

The researchers wanted to know how bad the pain was and how much it got in the way of the things these people wanted to do.

Interestingly, the study found that how much the pain got in the way of everyday life was a bigger problem for people than how intense the pain was.

In other words, people could deal with a lot of pain as long as it didn’t stop them from doing what they wanted or needed to do.

The Impact on Mental Health

This inability to do daily activities could lead to a lot of stress and negatively impact mental health. However, the study found that being flexible about personal goals could help maintain mental well-being.

This means that being able to adapt and find ways around the challenges posed by chronic pain can act as a protective buffer for mental health.

Being Mentally Flexible is Key

The study highlighted how being mentally flexible – adjusting personal goals in response to pain – helped maintain mental well-being. Essentially, it’s not about giving up on goals but finding different ways to achieve them.

It’s important to remember that managing chronic pain isn’t just about medicine.

It involves taking care of physical aspects like sleep and diet, social factors like work and relationships, and psychological elements like goal setting and flexibility.

Implications for Public Health

The results of this study can help guide public health policies. By focusing on promoting psychological strength and positive self-care, we can help people with chronic pain live happier, healthier lives.

Living with chronic pain can be challenging, but it’s not just about the pain – it’s about how it affects your life. With the right approach, it’s possible to manage chronic pain effectively and maintain a good quality of life.

If you care about mental health, please read studies about how dairy foods may influence depression risk, and B vitamins could help prevent depression and anxiety.

For more information about mental health, please see recent studies that ultra-processed foods may make you feel depressed, and extra-virgin olive oil could reduce depression symptoms.

The study was published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.

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