How to get through the the ‘pain’ of winter!
Winter is wild, wet, windy and cold. Winter is the time of year when you are in more pain, exhausted and unmotivated to partake in your usual activities. Let’s talk about the impact of our thinking on our daily life, and how we can use our thoughts and actions for the better in winter.
Transform unhelpful negative thoughts into rational and positive thoughts.
If you always think negatively, you will always feel depressed and you’ll start to lose confidence in everything you do. It’s easy to feel sorry for yourself and think “I am in pain today, I can’t do anything”. Chronic pain and negative thinking are a powerful combination that can stop you trying to live a good life if you don’t learn to change your thinking. It’s important to recognise when you have these negative thoughts and try and turn those thoughts into honest thoughts that acknowledge the challenges as well as the positive parts of reality, such as “I am in a lot of pain right now, but I am cozy in my bed, warm with my cat/netflix/book”.
Use problem solving to find the best solutions for keeping warm and lowering your physical pain.
An example of a problem I worked to solve in my own life is that I find wearing pants very uncomfortable and in winter they make my pain a lot worse. I have tried different types of clothing and materials and found that wearing a combination of long dresses with warm fabric and knee high socks works the best for me. Ask yourself questions when you are trying to find the best solutions for yourself such as, is this manageable to do on my own or will I need support? How effective is this in reducing my pain and increasing my independence? Have I tried all the options I can think of?
Name your emotions and your reasons why.
When you are experiencing increased pain during winter, it’s easy to feel frustrated or allow your emotions to control what you do and say. Naming your feelings is verbalising your internal thoughts and emotions that relate to what is going on around you. No one can read your mind so if you don’t say what is happening and why, they won’t know. A simple structure you can use is: “when…, I feel…. because…”. For example, “when you arrived late, I felt anxious, because I was afraid that something happened to you”.
Identify when to ask for help.
Naming how you are feeling is also a useful way to communicate to others when and why you need help. When they understand the reasons why, such as high pain levels, or low energy, others can take what you have said on board and try and make things more doable. A recent example of this in my life was when I was out fabric shopping with my friend. I had been on my feet for a long time and was starting to get very sore, but I really wanted her to be able to find the right fabric for her dress. I explained to her how I was feeling, and found somewhere to rest while she continued shopping. By communicating with her we understood each other and she didn’t feel like I was no longer interested.
As you have seen, communicating clearly, taking control of your thinking patterns and practical problem solving are key parts of getting through the pain of winter. What is your biggest challenge during winter and how do you plan to approach it this year? Let me know in the comments below, and don’t forget to follow georgiana.nz for more articles like this!