Pain and Covid-19
The covid-19 pandemic has well and truly hit Perth, and while we are fortunate to have the benefit of a relatively mild strain, time to prepare and high vaccination rates, it doesn’t mean the prospect of getting covid and the ramifications of ‘living with Covid’ are less stressful. The risk of long term illness, isolation, financial pressures, changing rules, mandates, working from home, mask-wearing, homeschooling, panic-buying, job insecurities, reduced access to health services, e.c.t; all challenge our sense of safety and security. This increases the likelihood we will experience pain.
It’s normal to experience increased pain when sick
Pain is part of your body’s way of keeping you safe and protected from anything that could be of threat, particularly when you are vulnerable. Increased immune system activity, in response to fighting a pathogen, results in your whole nervous system being more sensitive to pain. This means things that aren’t typically painful are, and painful things become more painful. In this way, pain encourages you to rest, nest and nurture so you can heal and recover.
It’s normal to experience increased pain when you are stressed, worried or concerned
Even if you aren’t sick, you may notice increased pain sensitivity when your sense of safety and security is challenged. Any threat can trigger your sympathetic nervous system fight/flight response. When you feel vulnerable, your body becomes hyper-aware of things that may cause you harm to react quickly to protect yourself. The sympathetic nervous system prioritises survival. The flip side of this response is that it down-regulates rest, recovery, growth and healing. This means you will continue to struggle with pain until you allow your body to recover and recharge.
Pain is nothing to fear. It’s a normal part of life and is one way your body helps you take care of it.
You are resilient, adaptable and self-healing
There are many simple things you can do to help manage pain.
Taking care of yourself shows your body that it is safe and doesn’t need to work so hard to protect you. Prioritising self-care and ensuring all of your basic needs are met and reassures your body that you will take care of it. Treat yourself as you would a small child in your care; good nutrition, stimulation, fresh air, routine, rest, sleep, sunlight, play and exercise. Be kind to yourself and practise trusting your body. Being creative, taking charge, connecting and engaging will also help to soothe your system by reinforcing your ability to cope with the current situation and be optimistic about the future.
If you notice an increase in pain sensitivity and reduced pain tolerance:
Rest for a couple of days, especially if you feel unwell.
Prioritise nutrition, hydration, sleep and self-care.
Actively practice stress management techniques that work for you.
Develop a routine.
Engage in pleasurable activities
Move-in meaningful ways when you feel well enough.