The Politics of Negativity & Chronic Pain

The Political Season. 

It's worse than flu season, monsoon season, and even that season of Dallas where Bobby Ewing dreamt the whole thing. (If you don't get the reference, try Googling it.)

Election season is upon us, and you know what that means.

A bombardment of attack ads.

Our television and social media will be filled with candidates, mostly going negative.


Because negative ads are effective. They leave a mark. And they just keep coming.

We are mostly turned off by the election season. As most polls indicate, we as a nation are not happy with our candidates, or the offices they are aspiring to be elected to.

So what? This is not news.

And what does it have to do with chronic pain..?

Well, it seems negativity can lead to a build-up of conscious or even unconscious stress levels. Mental stress can lead to physical stress--and symptoms of chronic pain, including back, neck, and shoulder pain.

So mirroring the attack ads, negativity is effective, and can hurt you. Literally.

According to WebMD:

  • At a fundamental level, chronic pain is a matter of biology: Errant nerve impulses keep alerting the brain about tissue damage that no longer exists, if it ever did. But complex social and psychological factors are also at play, and they seem to help determine who fares well despite even severe chronic pain -- and whose lives quickly unravel.
  • Negative emotions, including sadness and anxiety, seem to aggravate chronic pain. For example, people who dwell on their discomfort tend to be more disabled by chronic pain than people who try to take their pain in stride.

So what can we do?

We can't avoid the election. We can't avoid life. And we all know life can be pretty negative sometimes...

You can manage it. Look not to control your world around you, but rather your reactions to it.

A blogger named Sue Faulkner Wood, who writes a blog about chronic pain, knows what it is like. She shared these tips to help deal with the negatives. She wrote these 3 tips on the website "Everyday Health:"

Look toward the light.

No, not that light. I’m talking about the light of life. Imagine you are lost in a tunnel. You’ve become lost and you can’t get out. Look straight ahead. Don’t look back at where you’ve been, look forward. Do you see that little light, way down there at the end of the long dark tunnel? Keep focusing on that light. There is a way out. If you don’t believe that then you are in danger of never getting out of the darkness. You have to keep moving, keep hoping and expecting that spot of light to become a beacon. Eventually, it does.

Take life one challenge at a time.

Many of us have so many problems we forget half of them when we go to the doctor. That’s why we write down long lists, just so we will remember. We don’t tell our families and friends all of our problems because it would be too much. We most especially do not tell the Sad Sack friends; first of all because they really don’t want to hear it and because we don’t want to give them an excuse to “spill” onto us. It might give them something else to use against us in this battle we’re waging. The human mind can usually deal with one thought at a time. I try to choose my thoughts. It’s often difficult, not always possible, but is definitely a worthwhile goal. If I think about the “what ifs?” in life, it would be overwhelming. Much of those “what ifs?” are never going to come about. Others will occur, in their own time. Then they will get my attention and concern. It is enough of a challenge to take life one step, one concept, and one problem at a time.

Flee when you must.

There are times when you just shouldn’t and definitely can not deal with the air that is saturated with negativity. Sometimes you have to flee to survive. You might lose a friendship. If the source is someone you don’t want to lose, then you might need to change the subject, leave the room or leave the house.  Walk away from harm. You might even have to ask someone to leave. Such pessimism is extremely dangerous. It can cause harmful biologic affects. It can raise your blood pressure. It can load you down, both literally and figuratively. Flee anyway you can whether that means hanging up the phone or putting one foot in front of the other. Get thyself to safety. Go!

So be involved but don't be abused. Know your candidates and vote (of course). But otherwise avoid the circus, especially if you feel you aren't enjoying the show.

Form your own independent party of one. Support yourself. Contribute to your campaign of life. Watch and listen to things that inspire you. Take walks,  enjoy a nice cup of tea, stretch (we can help with that!) Positive thoughts + positive behaviors = positive health.  Don't debate in futility--celebrate in infinity.