How to practice gratitude when you have chronic pain

chronic pain gratitude mindfulness rheumatoid disease

White ceramic heart with the words 'I am grateful' printed on it

Gratitude encourages us to understand our circumstances in a way that can increase our feelings of joy.

Practicing gratitude on a daily basis has many benefits. It has been linked to reduced stress, inflammation and pain, and increased happiness. 

Great news for people with chronic pain, especially as it's free, simple and easy.

So, how you can add the act of gratitude to your daily routine? Here are five tips to get you started.

1. Share genuine compliments daily

Tell your spouse know how much you appreciate them making coffee in the morning or express your love for your coworker's new shirt.

When you hear or see someone you love, show that person!

When your significant other returns from work or your best friend calls, show your genuine appreciation and happiness. Value those in your life in small ways.

2. Practice gratitude every morning. 

Like anything else, the more you practice the easier it gets. Take ten minutes before you start your day to think about three things that you are grateful for.

This could be something as simple as having a safe home and place to sleep, through to your friends, pets or hobbies.

If you are religious, you can include this thankfulness in your prayers.

3. Learn from negative experiences

When you make a mistake, acknowledge it and then try to learn from it. Beating yourself up about mistakes or negative experiences isn't constructive. 

By looking for lessons, you can turn a negative into a positive. You will also reduce your chances of making similar mistakes in the future. 

4: Reframing

When you notice something or someone with a negative quality, try to reframe your mind to notice the positive. 

It's ok to acknowledge the negative and notice the feelings that it brings up, but don't allow that to become overwhelming.

For example, if you're traveling and you're squashed in the middle seat of a crowded flight, acknowledge that it is frustrating, but don't let it ruin your journey.

Instead, focus on the trip you are taking and how great it will be when you arrive.

5. Avoid toxic conversations

We all need to vent now and then, but try to keep a sensible limit on it.

Set a 'no gossiping, whining or criticizing' goal. 

Maybe you won't achieve it every day, but give it a try and see how you feel after a week. You may notice a subtle positive shift in your interactions with others. 

If you still need to vent after that, head on over to the Women with Rheumatoid Disease community. We've all been there!

Sources:

Personality and Individual Differences
https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0191886912004011


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