This week we will talk a bit about pain and how we are experiencing it and relating to it. Physical pain is something most of us are experiencing, and very few have a sustainable way of relating to it and ease it. We will now discuss this topic and what you can do to ease your pain.
In my profession as a Women’s Health Specialist, I have met uncountable amounts of women who are dealing with different sorts of pain. Period pain being one of them. Neck pain, headaches, endometriosis, vaginismus, vestibulitis, abdominal cramps, pain in the groins, lower back pain, urinary pain and pelvic pain are some other discomforts women are seeking my advice for.
Earlier this week, we posted a list of key reasons behind pain to our social media accounts, and I wanted to talk a bit more about them here.
5 key reasons why we experience pain:
- Tense body parts
- Past or current injuries
- A stressful life or a stressed way of looking at life
- Eating or drinking habits that cause inflammation
- Not respecting your boundaries and having others cross them
Let’s dive a little deeper into each one of these, but first, I would like to invite you into something that I find very valuable when it comes to relating to our bodies. You can choose to see the pain and discomforts as your body punishing you and therefor try to fight back or suppress the pain – or you can choose to see it as your body calling for attention to make you aware of something, as an invitation to getting to know and to take care of yourself better. How about choosing the later?
Let’s then look at these reasons and why they are causing pain:
- Having tense body parts. That can be a stiff neck from working a lot in front of a computer, tight calves from wearing heals, a tight lower back or hip bender from sitting a lot, scar tissue from injuries or surgeries, or a tight chest from having a shallow breathing… When areas get tightened, you get less space to move around in a natural, relaxed movement. You then start to move more constricted, which leads to your body engaging new muscles to compensate, in order for you to keep your balance. Your muscles are then exhausting themselves, which may lead to fatigue and/or pain.
- Past or current injuries can be the start of the above tensions as well, since we tend to tense other body parts when we are experiencing pain. Injuries are also often accompanied by a feeling of fear, which may lead to a shallow breathing, and an increased production of stress hormones.
- Leading a stressful life, may be a more controversial topic to bring up as a reason behind pain, but I argue that it is a very important topic. When you are in a stressed mode, your hormonal system is creating more stress hormones: adrenalin, norepinephrine and cortisol. The reason behind that is that it believes that you are in immediate danger and that you need to run away from or fight that danger. Our bodies and hormonal systems cannot differ the stress of being chased by a wolf from being stressed about finances, work load or family life. If you are constantly in stress, this is messing with your hormonal system, tiring your adrenal glands, creating more tension, and causing more inflammation and acidity in your body, which all can lead to pain.
- Eating or drinking habits that cause inflammation. Let’s not get rigid on what to eat or not. We are never about forcing any diets onto anyone. Giving your body a lot of inflammatory food and drink items, is however affecting your wellbeing. Most of those are the highly processed or refined ones, that include a lot of additives, preservatives and emulsifiers. If the food is also genetically modified, or treated with a lot of pesticides or herbicides when grown, these tag along into your body, so your system will have to deal with absorbing, digesting and eliminating those harmful subjects too. Inflammation is usually accompanied by the increase of heat and pain. Weirdly enough, inflammation is our friend when we are in need, since it is a detoxing and healing mechanism that the body turns on when it needs to deal with and eliminate harmful subjects from our bodies. Though, we don’t need to actively add reasons for the body to cause inflammation.
- Not respecting your boundaries and having others cross them. Now that’s a deep one. And a very important one. Most people are kind-hearted people, who are doing their best in making their own life work, including the relationships around them. In the effort of making relationships work, a lot of people tend to compromise – a little too much. We are emotionally or financially invested in being liked by the people around us. If we feel that by saying or doing something, we risk being liked or endorsed by a specific person, we might not say or do that. I understand completely that you are keen on keeping good relationships to those around you, but if you let it belittle yourself or your point of view, then it will cause uncomfortable feelings in yourself. When we let others dictate the rules, or when we act according to how we assume(!) someone prefers us to act, then we are not honest with ourselves or the other, which is a ground for misunderstandings and pain. Pain? Yes, this can even cause a physical sensation of pain. Try tuning in to your body the next time you are choosing to compromise or adjust your truth, and see if maybe you can sense how your body is reacting with tension or pain.
Now this was a whole lot of words on pain, wasn’t it? Let’s look at some solutions!
How to relate to and ease your pain:
In a way, all of these above reasons would be eased by you feeling safe and relaxed. The first step to relaxation is getting in contact with your breathing. I’m not talking about the super deep, advanced breathings where you count various amounts of seconds in and and out. If you feel relaxed by breathing that way, go for it, but there is a tendency of getting stuck in your head with the counting, or making it into a performance when you breathe like that. I want to invite you into the present, by paying attention to your breathing and how it feels. Does it feel stressed? Relaxed? Shallow? Deep? Quiet? Loud? Energizing? Calming? Just observe it and be with it.
Then direct your attention to your physical body, and if you have a specific area of pain or tension there. If you can reach that area with your hand, then put your hand on it. Does your breathing change character when you give attention to that pain or tension? Can you tell yourself that you are safe? That if there was a danger, or sense of danger, connected to that pain or tension, that the danger is now over? You are safe. Your body is safe. What happens with the pain, tension and breathing when you say that?
Let’s take some time here if you need it before you keep on reading.
Other things you can do to ease pain and tension:
- Self massage to relief pain by softening tense areas in your body (including around scar tissue), maybe with some curative oils to help hydrate and soften the tension.
- Massage and other body treatments by a professional therapist that can see a bigger perspective of which tension causes which pain.
- Stretching and organic movements for your body (we have a relaxing and strengthening movement program designed for just that, as part of the Vital Woman Program if you’re interested).
- Hydrate your body by eating fruits and veggies rather than dry food, and by drinking water, maybe with some lemon, salt and honey in it to make it more absorbable.
- Minimize the intake of inflammatory food and drink items in your daily intake. Eating more whole foods and cooking your own meals often takes you a long way without having to follow any diets.
- When you experience pain, see it as your body wanting to communicate with you, and try to read its signs rather than suppressing the pain with pain killers, unless you really have to. If you suppress the pain, it tends to increase. When you listen to the pain and do something about the reason behind it, your body doesn’t have to intensify the pain to get your attention.
”If you listen when your body whispers, it doesn’t have to scream”
I hope you found some value in the above text and that it will help you befriend yourself and your body, which is one of our main hopes with our program and our company. In next week’s blog, Diana will talk about stress.
Until then, enjoy your week and the perhaps new relationship to your body.