Managing Emotions | Chronic Pain Support Group

managing emotions facial expressionsRecognizing and managing our emotions can be challenging for anyone. It can be especially difficult for those of us who are working on managing emotions and our pain at the same time. Regardless of how difficult our feelings can be to manage, they do play a significant role in our health and in our pain level. Some of the most common emotions for individuals dealing with chronic pain are negative. These include sadness, depression, fear, and anger or frustration. Unfortunately, these emotions are negative. Positive ones include joy, gratitude, hope, and love. Most people don’t have any problems expressing or recognizing these.

According to Dr. Beth Darnall, she said that, ‘the areas of the brain that are associated with sensory perception, are shared with the areas of the brain that are involved in processing your emotions.” We can no longer say that our emotions do not affect our pain or our health since both are processed in a shared area in the brain.  Negative emotions can increase your pain levels. On the other hand, your pain level can also fuel negative emotions. Positive emotions could potentially decrease your pain levels.

The Body Interprets

Just as the body interprets the stove as hot and we remove our hand, we laugh when we think something is funny. In other words, we feel our emotions just like we feel a pin prick. The important part about understanding this relationship between pain and our feelings is learning to recognize how we feel and learning how to express these feelings. Key factors in managing emotions.

So many of us in chronic pain feel bad most of the time so we tend to lose motivation and want to keep to ourselves. Not being active in our life and not socializing isn’t going to help replace our negative emotions with positive ones. Not only do we isolate ourselves, chronic pain patients find it frustrating to share how they really feel with others keeping their feelings bottled up inside. It seems no matter how hard they try to explain how they feel, others don’t seem to understand. Continuing this cycle makes them feel more isolated and angry. These feelings continue to fuel the path of negativity and pain. Managing emotions and understanding that they do not feel what we feel may help when you talk and share with others.

Tips to Recognize for Managing Emotions

Recognizing how we feel and learning how to best express those feelings is where the challenge lies.  Just being aware that a relationship exists between how we feel and how we feel helps us become more mindful. Below are some tips that may help:

  • If you keep a journal, it would be great to start recording your emotions along side your other notes, including your pain level. Tracking both of them may help give you more insight into recognizing the effect your emotions have on your pain. Your journal can also serve as a place to record how you feel when you are in a situation where expressing it may be inappropriate.
  • Taking a walk in the park our just go outside and feel the sunshine. I love to breathe nature in! If you can’t go for a walk, do another form of physical activity that you enjoy because it just may help you release some of those negative emotions and bring you some joy.
  • Socialize. It may be just the thing you need to help you feel better. No one likes to be alone day in and day out, so schedule some time with friends and family and share some things with them. This may help you feel more loved.
  • Whatever you do, don’t ignore your emotions. Holding how you feel inside can cause you to overreact to situations. It’s like shaking a can of soda pop and opening it.
  • Many individuals have found Bach Flower Remedies helpful in balancing their emotions and to help deal with daily stresses.


It is unfortunate that negative emotions and chronic pain often go hand in hand. It is also sad that so many of you keep these feelings hidden. In going forward, it is best to keep believing in yourself, don’t blame yourself, and know you have the right to feel what you feel. There is a book called The Angry Book by Theodore Rubin. It’s about learning to handle all these emotions, expressing them and handling them. His book summary states that it’s not about getting even, it’s about getting mad and getting over it. Understanding this relationship and learning techniques to help you express your emotions and do more things that bring you positive feelings can help you help yourself.