Studies show that stress can increase pain, so lowering your stress can significantly impact your pain level.
Start with PROBLEM SOLVING. When in a stressful situation, make a list of contributing factors. Is this situation too much for you physically or mentally? Are the people involved the source of the stress? Pinpoint the causative factors, and find ways to act on them.
Example: You are planning a holiday dinner. Make a to do list for hosting the dinner. Where will you run into trouble on the list? Will prolonged standing in the kitchen be a problem? How many guests would be the limit you could handle? Be very specific.
Solutions to these items would be doing as much cooking as possible in advance, getting help with cooking, and asking guests to bring side dishes. Limit your guest list to four people. Purchase and wrap gifts the week before. Hire help to clean the house beforehand and to help with dishes afterwards. Or, the dishes can wait until the next day.
PLANNING. Plan events at least two weeks out. That gives you plenty of time to problem solve, and to accomplish chunks of the to do list in advance. Put each item on your calendar so you won’t get behind schedule.
PRIORITIZING. Prioritizing means that you do the most important things first, not the most urgent. This means you have to think about what is most important to you and be clear on what those things are. Is setting a pretty table more important to you than the holiday decorations? What needs to be done sooner rather than later? Prioritizing means you get those important things done first, and the rest will fall into place. Be clear on which items are optional and do those last. Don’t waste your energy on items that are not essential to you.
PACING. Pacing means looking at the list of to do items and spreading them out so they are manageable within the chosen time frame. Avoid rushing around and doing too much in one day. Ask your partner for help, and be sure to give them advanced notice on the days you will need them for sure. Be sure and schedule a day off after the more strenuous activities. Use your energy wisely.