Have you ever felt caught in a vicious cycle of negative or repetitive thoughts? Worrying can make us feel unsafe and out of control, cause muscle tension, and even make us feel short of breath and sick to the stomach.
When it comes down to mind-body symptoms, worrying and pain anxiety seems to go hand in hand for many. However, science proves that fear-related behavioral patterns strongly correlate to mind-body symptoms and the ability to resolve neuroplastic pain. Breaking the cycle of worry can allow those with chronic pain to strengthen the connection between the mind-body, reduce hyper-vigilance and sensitivity in the nervous system, and resolve chronic pain syndrome.
Keep reading this blog to learn how to identify the thought patterns that lead to excessive worrying and how to increase resilience and reduce pain anxiety.
Thought Patterns that Lead to Excessive Worrying
Before we identify the thought patterns that lead to worrying, let's cover what the term 'worrying' means. Worrying is to excessively think about negative thoughts or outcomes as an attempt to solve a problem. Although worrying is a inefficient coping mechanism in most circumstances, as humans, we naturally experience recurring negative thoughts daily. In 2005, The National Science Foundation published an article explaining that we have "12,000 to 60,000 thoughts per day; and of those thoughts, 80% are negative, and 95% are repetitive."
So what can a person with mind-body symptoms or stress-induced pain do to limit thought patterns that lead to worry and pain anxiety? Thinking negatively is normal for all humans and is an impossible behavioral pattern to completely stop. However, how we respond to the negative thoughts is what creates suffering.
Suffering occurs when a person internalizes negative thoughts. When the problem that needs to be resolved becomes personal, the person begins worrying more about how the problem will affect their well-being or identity rather than focusing on fixing the actual issue at hand.
Ways to Stop Worrying
The most important first step to stop worrying is becoming aware of your internal state. Come to an understanding of how these thought patterns have affected your well-being, ability to problem solve, or reclaim safety. Practice noticing if you feel muscle tension, shortness of breath, tightness in the chest or throat, and so on. Once you become aware that the problem has shifted from an external issue to an internal issue, you can begin to look within for a solution that will help you feel better.
Next, acknowledge your physical, mental, and emotional state as a response to this problem. Then think of some mindfulness techniques to help you reclaim safety in the nervous system. Down regulating the nervous system to feel safe can be done by using practices like somatic tracking, breath work, orienting, journaling and yoga.
When you reclaim a sense of calmness and control, take a break from thinking about the issue. Go for a walk, call a friend, or play with a friendly dog nearby. Once you can step away and break the cycle of worry, you can come back to the problem with a better headspace and brainstorm simple steps to overcome this challenge.
How to Increase Resilience and Reduce Pain Anxiety
Having fear of symptoms and the onset of pain is a normal, automatic response. Because, pain is a danger signal, its purpose is to tell us that something is wrong or unsafe to our well-being. However, for those that suffer from chronic pain syndrome/tension myositis syndrome/ neuroplastic pain, responding to symptoms with fearful behavioral patterns can prolong and intensify symptoms. Therefore, to break the vicious Pain-Fear cycle, increasing your window of tolerance by addressing triggers to fearful behavioral patterns.
To reduce pain anxiety, gain a deeper understanding of the connection between your mental and emotional well-being to the physical sensations you experience. By gently observing the shifts in your physical well-being according to your emotional state, you are allowing your brain to become less hyper-vigilant about the pain sensations. With time and practice, you can rewire the brain, reduce sensitivity to sensations, anxiety, and even physical pain.
If you have chronic pain or mind-body symptoms and have a history of anxiety, click here to download my free guide, "3 Steps to break the Chronic Pain Cycle." Body Amor Wellness offers chronic pain coaching and Pain Reprocessing Therapy for those dealing with stress-induced pain and mind-body symptoms like lower back pain, pelvic pain, IBS, migraines, and more. Schedule a free consultation today to learn more about our programs and how we can help you!
Enjoy Live webinars? Follow @bodyamorwellness on Instagram today for free educational posts and webinars on chronic pain, stress management, and healing the inner child. Click here to watch the latest free webinar, "Pain Anxiety and Breaking the Habit of Catastrophizing."