By Guest Blogger Melissa Lovitz
While many people across the United States are preparing for Thanksgiving, we thought it would be fun to feature this listicle about what you can do every day to kick CRPS/RSD’s butt. This author wrote a great list for us to feature. Here’s what she does.
My RSD reminds me daily that I don’t have control over my body and I will hurt physically and mentally sometimes just because the wind blows. It’s easy to get defeated by this reality and lose power over your own life. RSD thrives off this mentality. It invades your body and is pleased by your compliance with its painful trajectory.
If I’m being honest, it’s easy to let RSD win and take over your friendships, family life, school or work aspirations, and your passions. I definitely have been down that slippery slope before. However after years of battling with my body that is riddled with pain, I have realized that even though it hurts I have control over the choices I make each day about the life I lead and the way I love myself and my ambitions – fiercely.
So, here are 5 things I do every day to kick RSD’s butt:
- I don’t give my pain power
I won’t let it define me. You will rarely hear me talk about how much pain I am in. If I am talking about it, know it’s that bad. I won’t draw attention to the fact that something might hurt me, and when others do, I usually reply by saying, “I’m going to do it anyway” or “that’s life”. If I don’t give my pain power then I gain control over my life.
- I bike to work
Biking to work for me is more of a practical practice than a healthy lifestyle choice. Primarily, biking to work saves me time and helps me feel in control of my Boston-based commuter lifestyle. I can zip through heavy traffic on busy streets and when I’m ready to leave I just hop on my bike a go. In terms of my RSD, biking to work helps me to do something with my body that makes me feel strong or like I’m relying on it. When my pain is really creeping up, I feel like my body’s betraying me. When I bike to work, I remember how amazing my body is even when it hurts and that it is strong. “My body is strong and I can trust it” is the mantra I gain by biking to work.
- I stick to my plan for the day
I’m an athlete and I have chronic pain. They both come with unique challenges and successes. They’re both huge, real aspects of my life. When I was in high school I was a competitive gymnast. In college I did marching band at a Division 1 school. Now, I’m a runner! Training for half marathons is one of the biggest accomplishments of my journey thus far! It’s helped me to better understand my capabilities and to tune into my body in a way that I was previously unable to. I stick to my training plan even when it hurts because I’d rather experience some moments of intense discomfort or a flare up than regret or resentment!
- I practice mindfulness
Mindfulness practice stands in direct opposition to the common RSD solution – find a distraction. When I’m being mindful, I acknowledge my pain, but I am better able to apply tools and rational thinking to decide what to do next after I know how I’m feeling. Often people with RSD are encouraged to find ways to ignore the sensations they’re feeling. Conversely, mindfulness helps me dive in and be aware of my body and my pain. I ask myself questions such as “have I felt this pain before?” to get a better sense whether this is a familiar pain or an impending injury. This mindset helps me essentially shift my experience of pain from an emotional and physical experience to an intellectual one. With this awareness of my body’s cues and signals, I can notice my pain, accept its existence, and move forward (literally). As a bonus, being mindful about my body also helped me tune into being mindful of my emotions!
- I live authentically
I don’t deny my reality or try to pretend my pain doesn’t exist. I live fully and with a whole heart. I approach each day as an opportunity to be vulnerable and real about my strengths and my shortcomings. Being true and true to myself shows my RSD that it cannot take me down. I am stronger than this pain.
What strategies do you use to kick RSD’s butt? How do you show your pain that you’re in control?