As I pedal along our beautiful Iowa bike trails each day, I ponder all that is going on in our world. Usually, I am in South Africa during these hot, lazy days of summer. I sense that many of us in America and South Africa are in a dark mood, feeling a bit of anger and discouragement. It reminds me of the many years that I spent trying to help people recover from chronic pain. Many of the patients I worked with had the overwhelming feeling that their suffering was an incurable condition that was destroying their ability to enjoy life. They weren’t sleeping well, were often unable to work, and felt socially isolated. Fortunately, I had a skilled team of people working with me to help these individuals, and I was able to see many of these wonderful people experience significant improvements.
The following are some of the things I learned to help my patients get out of the funk that they were experiencing. Hopefully some of you might find it helpful for our situation today:
- Have faith that it is possible to feel better, and understand that it will take a bit of time.
- Stop watching TV and minimize your screen time on the computer or cell phone.
- Get out in nature and appreciate the beauty of God’s creation.
- Exercise at least one hour per day, whether it is walking, biking, or swimming.
- Minimize toxic substances in your body, especially mind effecting drugs and alcohol.
- Invest time in nurturing relationships with close friends.
- Care for and appreciate your family, especially your spouse.
- Minimize your time and exposure to negative/toxic individuals.
- Pray and read your Bible to develop a closer relationship with God.
- Learn how to really forgive. I would highly recommend the book, The Bait of Satan.
- Focus on love and get rid of any hatred in your heart.
- Feed your body good fuel, minimize caffeine and sugar.
- Have some fun. It is okay to fake it at first to get your fun motor running again.
- Get rid of as much clutter in your environment as you can.
- Count your blessings often.
I promise you that these ideas are effective, but not a quick fix. When I was the director of the pain center, we had a whole team of nurses, exercise staff, physical therapists, physiologists, physicians, a pharmacist, dietitian and a chaplain to educate and motivate people. All of that being said, it is not easy to change your mindset or behavior but just know that if you’d like to feel better, just pick one thing to get started and see where it can take you.
Have a good month. I will be back with you in September.