It is no surprise that negative thinking and chronic pain are correlated. Likewise, our mental health dramatically influences our neuroplastic pain, which can manifest in many ways, such as fatigue, migraines, chronic back pain, fibromyalgia, and increased muscle tension. Four everyday bad habits compound these effects: catastrophic thinking, avoiding unresolved trauma, worrying about uncertainty, and lack of self-compassion. When left unchecked for too long, stress caused by these negative habits can cause neuroplastic pain that can dramatically affect our quality of life. For this reason, it is essential to be aware of the ill effects of these habits, so we can take steps to limit their influence on our physical and mental well-being.
Continue reading this blog to learn how the development of these four unhealthy habits causes the nervous system to become overly sensitive and create a state of hypervigilance.
1. Catastrophic Thinking:
Catastrophic thinking is a negative thinking pattern that can make your nervous system feel threatened and unsafe. When this type of thinking occurs repetitively, it can contribute to the development of neuroplastic pain in the body. Neuroplastic pain is a form of persistent chronic pain resulting from changes in nerve function due to repeated stress-induced nervous system activation. This can result in hypervigilance or an overactive state of alarm in which we become overly sensitive and reactive to various stimuli. In addition, catastrophizing can increase the sensitivity and intensity of our physical sensations and emotions, such as anxiety, fear, fatigue, and even pain. Because neuroplastic pain stems directly from traumatic thought patterns, changing relationships with our thoughts can be a crucial factor in healing neuroplastic pain and reducing higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
2. Unresolved Trauma:
Unresolved trauma significantly affects an individual's pain tolerance, regardless of its source or intensity. The unresolved emotions and suppressed anger generated by unresolved trauma can cause the nervous system to become hypersensitive, making it more likely that signs that are not actually dangerous will be misinterpreted as threatening. As a result, this can lead to chronic pain and other physical and mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. Therefore, resolving unresolved trauma is essential to return one's pain tolerance to healthy levels.
3. Worrying About Uncertainty:
Anxiety and fear about the unknown can be paralyzing, often leading to a chronic stress response in the body that has profound implications- from decreased pain tolerance to physical pain. When we respond to bodily sensations with fear, our brain categorizes these sensations as dangerous, and thus pain may result. Worry and stress- whether real or perceived- only feeds into the Pain-Fear Cycle, leading to hypervigilance and an inability to get out of this loop. Unchecked, this cycle can create a destructive ripple effect that can undermine our quality of life. Therefore, to break the Pain-Fear Cycle, we must increase our awareness and understanding of how anxiety impacts us physically.
4. Lack of Self-Compassion:
When dealing with chronic pain, having self-compassion is essential to maintain patience and to remain encouraged toward healing. Self-compassion means understanding that you are struggling with something, speaking to yourself kindly while recognizing your self-worth, believing in your ability to cope with difficulty, and managing frustration better than anger. When self-compassion is lacking, it can have a damaging effect on an individual's mental health as well as their ability to find relief from their pain. It can also prevent them from practicing self-care strategies, such as mind-body skills, that could help reduce chronic pain symptoms and lessen feelings of distress or sadness associated with the condition. Therefore self-compassion is essential in managing one's physical well-being; lack of it can lead to unnecessary suffering and impede recovery.
It is important to address these thinking patterns to reduce pain and increase our overall pain tolerance. By making lifestyle changes that promote nervous system regulation and create a sense of safety in the body, we can help reduce chronic pain and improve our overall pain tolerance. For example, self-care practices such as mindful movement and meditation can bring us back into balance and support improved nervous system functioning. These simple steps can help us reclaim our bodies from the adverse effects of poor health habits and regain a sense of safety and control in the nervous system. In addition, regular practice can change our thinking patterns, reduce hypervigilance and reverse neuroplastic pain.
If chronic pain has taken over your life, it's time to take the steps needed for healing. Unfortunately, bad habits such as negative thinking and avoidance can lower our pain tolerance, making it harder to manage neuroplastic pain. Take a few minutes today to complete the Free Body Amor Wellness Pain Quiz and gain insight into your lifestyle habits that could keep you in the pain-fear cycle. Afterward, take advantage of the expert tips from Kinesiologist and Life Coach Amari Dior, who has helped countless people successfully reduce neuroplastic pain and increase their ability to withstand physical discomfort. It's time to recognize how much potential you have for healing, so join us on this journey of reclaiming your life!