Here is a quick little share on my persistent pain journey and why comfort is starting place for all my clients.
When I was at the height of my persistent pain condition and anxiety the key piece of the puzzle was having health practitioners explain and teach me about comfort. At the time my nervous system was so wired, everything hurt and health care revolved around pain. (Even putting my arms above my head to do my hair was excruciating.)
I was sent to an incredible GP who introduced me to mindfulness. I read the book ‘Mindfulness for Health by Vidyamala Burch and Danny Penman’ and listened to the accompanying recordings. He was one of the first practitioners to educate me on the relationship between anxiety, my nervous system and my pain without advising “You just need to relax”. (Let’s be real all that does is make anxiety worse and leave you asking how?!?!?)
I found this GP through one of my lecturers at uni who I had started seeing for physio. She educated me on the importance of pain free movement. At that point, I was in constant, unrelenting pain. She taught me to tune into micro movements which for me started with breath.
By giving myself permission not to push into pain and stay within the comfort of my micro movement, my nervous system slowly learnt how to be comfortable in a larger range and variation of movement. (Now look at what my body can do five years in the making)
When you’re in a stress or pain state pushing only moves you further into a sympathetic state reinforcing neuro-chemical pathways leading to discomfort. From this place resilience is less than easy. Think about your ability to withstand stress on a day where you've had little sleep? Your perceived resilience is lower. That is, things you may be able to shrug off when had a good nights sleep become more frustrating/aggravating/stressful.
If 2020 has taught us anything it’s that, life is unpredictable and so long as we are living we will have to calibrate for comfort. The scale slides with stress, trauma, pain, grief/loss, celebration, happiness, joy and excitement. Comfort is not a level in a game you unlock, achieve and stay within because well... life.
Learning how to calibrate comfort therefore is such an important life skill. Focusing on where the comfort lies and techniques to increase comfort (not necessarily just focusing on decreasing pain) can assist with choosing more helpful coping strategies. The end goal is the same but the journey feels different.
It is only once we have discovered where comfort starts and ends that we have the strength to withstand more stress/discomfort. If you would like to try breath-focused physiotherapy or clinical hypnotherapy on your journey to finding comfort please reach out!
Enjoy your day and always be kind :)