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What is mindfulness?

Mindfulness seems to be all over the place right now. News, television, online, it seems to be everywhere? But what is it? It’s simply a way of helping you become more aware of how your mind can drift off and become caught up with worries, the past, the future, etc. It helps “train the mind” to stay a little more in the present.

What’s it got to do with my pain?

You might ask. At first it doesn’t seem it has much to do with pain. But if you think about how your pain makes you feel, how it affects your mood, activity, and how you think and feel about yourself, it might begin to make a bit more sense. We often react, think, and feel things about the pain automatically, and these reactions can often make us feel even worse, on top of the physical pain. Mindfulness can help us become more aware of these automatic reactions to pain, and be able to respond in different ways which might help.

Can you give me an example of what you mean?

So, you might have a flare up with pain, and automatically react to this with a range of thoughts such as;
“Here we go again”, “what have I done to deserve this”, “no one understands”, “the medication doesn’t help” or “I can’t carry on like this” or “I hate not being able to do things”.

All of these reactions are entirely normal. Over time, they can become so automatic we don’t realise we’re saying them. However, look at them and consider how they might affect our emotions? How might they affect what you do or don’t do? So, we can end up feeling even worse on top of how the physical pain can make us feel.